The three races on offer at the annual Surfers Challenge could not be more different from one another in respect of terrain, required effort and preparation.
The original “Surfers” was initially estimated to be 14 or 15km in length, but later settled to be 16.5km from Kwelera River mouth to the Lifesavers Shack on Nahoon Beach. Originally the finish is reported – by the pioneers who started the challenge – to have been at Nahoon Corner. The route hugged the coastline via Rainbow Valley, Sunrise-on-Sea, the Gonubie River mouth crossing and onto Oceanway and the delightful setting of Gonubie, German Bay, Eastward Ho, across Quenera Lagoon, Bonza Bay Beach and the second river crossing at Nahoon.
The first 6km of the race are demanding in respect of under footing determined by rocks, loose stones, driftwood, soft sand and more. Following the recent rains this could be even more of a challenge in 2022 than past years.
Change arrived in 2010 when the race organisation was forced into a late switch of route at Gonubie River exit, as the tides had been higher that the norm all week. Instead of running under the boardwalk a deviation of an extra kilometre was added and runners directed into the first car park, up the tar road at the back of the famous Gonubie Beach sand dune and then down to the traditional route of running past the many cheering spectators at Gonubie Hotel.
The iconic suburban hotel is now the setting of the start of the shorter Surfers variety of roughly 11.2km. It offers a much faster start on the tar road, but then bottlenecks a little down the bushy path a kilometre past German Bay. The same soft sand and cambered first kilometre of beach that the longer race participants will run, is encountered, and comes as something of a shock to the legs, but the surface soon settles down and allows for a competitive footrace to the finish.
The 5km race was originally introduced for runners of 14 years and younger, but has since been opened to all, though it remains that only the youngsters can win prizes in the boys’ and girls’ races. The course is simple with an out and back race from below Blue Lagoon to a turn about 400m past the Quenera Lagoon, below the PSA Holiday Resort and back, crossing the Nahoon River to the same finish as the other two events.