The Dolphin Challenge was completed on Sunday 11 December by over 60 intrepid adventurers. The beach route from Jeffreys Bay to Port Elizabeth in wet, windy conditions tested participants who ran (by themselves or in relay teams), and those who rode in the mountain bike event.
The 36km stretch of beach between the two coastal cities is pristine and seldom explored. Participants were grateful, not only to finish the event and earn a unique medal, but also for the opportunity to explore a part of the Eastern Cape and Nelson Mandela Bay the few see.
Previous 3-time winner, Jorg Brand, was dethroned by the conditions and the new race record holder, Mzukisi Klaas, who took 15 minutes off the previous best time to win in 3 hours and 6 minutes. Klaas was well clear of second placed Colben Ngcube.
Trail running giants of the Eastern Cape, Bradley Hyman and Andy Wesson, came in shortly thereafter commenting that, “The Dolphin Challenge presents a unique challenge. We have completed the Sky Run 100km race and running on the sand is very tough. Glad to be done!”
The first woman home, Amore Strauss of Charlo Athletic Club (Charlo AC), was also pleased to have finished the event. A multiple endurance event athlete, Strauss is rebuilding her form after injury lay off this year and was happy to come through the event so strongly.
For the first time the event also held a relay section which was hotly contested by teams from Charlo AC, Crusaders Athletics Club and Kaplan Blumberg. Relay runners all came through smiling and positive about their experiences on the beach, many commenting that they would be back in 2017.
The mountain bike event, although sparsly attended, was enjoyed by those that did attend. A photo finish between Ed Bennett and Bennie Heynike was enjoyed by the small crowd of beach goers who braved the weather.
Eastern Cape Coastal Water Rescue managed the runner’s river crossing at Gamtoos River mouth. They will receive part of the proceeds of the race along with Rotary International’s End Polio campaign.
The main beneficiary of the event, The Herald Christmas Cheer Fund, stands to receive R3000. The Fund’s Beggar-in-Chief, Steven Lancaster, said: “We are very grateful to all the sponsors of this event, and the participants. I believe an event like this can only grow as it is a unique adventure–tourism opportunity as well as a means of engaging most levels of runners through the relay event.”
The event was been renamed the Dolphin Challenge because the route looks like the back of a dolphin and Nelson Mandela Bay is the “Bottlenose Dolphin Capital of the world”.
For individuals and the full distance mountain bikers this is considered an “extreme” event due to the minimal support and athlete exposure to the elements along the route; the more extreme the weather, the more extreme the event.
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