I certainly love a challenge!
Thinking back, I remember the 2011 Discovery Surfers Challenge, as clear as yesterday. Not only the spectacular summer’s day, but also to the warm, homely welcome from every local spectator, the holiday makers and the awesome sponsors.
For a Gauteng couple on weekend break, it was yet another adventure… only to find out that the ‘discovery’ is not over until the last runner or surfer crosses the finish-line at Nahoon beach!
The morning of the 12th of February 2011 started with a typical 8 km daily training run followed by a delightful breakfast where we noticed the street to be crowded by traffic cones and people in preparation for… Suspicion grew but had yet to be resolved.
My inquisitiveness was killing me and it was the owner of a coffee shop in Gonubie who informed us about an annual event about to take place in the early afternoon. We briefly discussed the possibilities of taking part in this event and I spontaneously decided to give it a shot. Thinking back the decision might have been a little impulsive, but wow, (after a slight detour to the other side of the gentle Kwelera river), arriving at the start we found a sizable crowd of people stretching, jogging, and preparing ‘surfing‘, running and walking gear in anticipation of the challenge… kits to be collected, laces to be tightened, sunblock to be applied to so many people. This is a BIG event…
The Discovery Surfers Challenge is certainly not only for the fast and furious, it is an absolute must for any person feeling up to a fun filled afternoon and who’ll appreciate the absolutely picturesque surroundings and spectacular views from start to finish! Navigating your way down through rocky stretches, strewn with pebbles, some even resemble sizable boulders and then onto the almost never ending beaches, broken every so often by a tidal river or lagoon – acting as obstacles en-route to Nahoon beach. After reaching Gonubie beach the cheers and applause never seemed to subside, all the way from the lagoon through the caravan park, downhill past the Gonubie Hotel right up until the end of the tarred portion of the challenge!
Wow, some other memorable elements worth mentioning are all the sponsored and casual water points… they were fantastic! The spectators carried virtually every participant on a cloud of euphoria right up to the finish line! With all the support along the route from the start at Yellow Sands all the way to Nahoon Beach, fatigue is almost not even a consideration! Swimming through the Nahoon River, close to the finish-line, you suddenly realise the surf skiers are paddling their hearts out to your left, quickly catching up to us runners and suddenly the aim shifts to going stronger and harder!
With the finish line approaching fast you sometimes feel exhausted and alone, but as the banners guide your route, the applause and roars of the crowds of supporters and spectators welcomes you with warmth and empathy.
The sponsors awaiting each finisher and the personal victory of even the youngest participant is tremendous! The caring smiling faces are a celebration for each challenger!
Now, another year later, this spirit still lives on! With the 38th Discovery Surfers Challenge fast approaching, one can only wonder what will unfold this year… when yet another chapter starts. To all the sponsors, thank you for making this event possible once again!
Personally, I took something from this race to share. When difficulties cross your path, make sure that problems that occurred in the past make you prone to use these problems as stepping stones to get to your goal!