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Three generations of the well-known Richards swimming clan will line up at the 92nd SPAR River Mile Festival at Cannonville outside Port Elizabeth later this month.
As has become customary, the 82-year-old Mally Richards will be surrounded by family when he takes to the water for the 63rd time on February 21.
Joining him this year will be his son Kevin, a former six-time winner attempting his 30th mile, and the latter’s sons Sean (17) and Marc (14).
A Springbok swimmer, lifesaver and triathlete in days gone by, Kevin, now 52, swam his first mile at the age of nine and collected his debut title at 14.
“I have had my fair share of competitive swimming,” said Kevin, who won national titles in the pool from 1984 to 1986.
He also held South African records in the 100m and 200m backstroke events before switching codes and becoming national triathlon champion in 1993.
“But now I only swim for enjoyment and to stay in shape,” said the man known as ‘The Fish’ during his triathlon days. “It is a lifestyle for me.”
Race director Michael Zoetmulder of Zsports said the only other six-time male winner was Geoff Grylls, who managed to do so consecutively.
“Both Geoff and Kevin’s achievements are remarkable, but the Richards family’s participation and passion over many decades represents the very nature of this event.”
Zoetmulder said the seventy-three-year-old Ant Skinner, another veteran of the race, will also line up on the grassy shores of the Sundays River.
“He grew up in Redhouse where the first one took place almost a century ago, so he literally grew up with it.”
SPAR Eastern Cape marketing director Abri Swart said it was their 17th year of involvement in what has become one of the region’s best supported family festivals.
“Not only does it epitomise SPAR’s family and lifestyle culture, so do people like the Richards.”
Zoetmulder said the two-day programme not only offered swimming events for all ages and ability, but catered for runners and triathletes as well.
He said the food and craft stalls, which were carefully selected, were another family highlight.
The festival, which gets underway on February 20, supports the Smile Foundation and Cleft Friends.
Gates open at 8am and entry is R20 per person.
Enter at www.rivermile.co.za now or find SPAR EC in Action on Facebook.
Defending champion Luthando Hejana breezed past his rivals to take his second straight victory in blustery conditions at the 10km SPAR Family Challenge road race in East London on Saturday.
Hejana (Born 2 Run) crossed the finish line at Beaconhurst Primary School in a time of 36:09, almost four-and-a-half minutes ahead of runner-up Malixole Kalideni in 40:48, with Masixole Mpemvushe third in 42:30.
The 28-year-old winner shaved more than three minutes off his previous course record of 39:27, which he set during last year’s inaugural race.
“I had the wind right from the front for most of the race, and with that came a lot of dust and sand in my face,” said Hejana, shortly after flying across the finish line.
“Despite the wind I still enjoyed the race. The route was challenging, but a lot of fun. I look forward to next year’s race.”
Runners faced all seasons as they lined up for the lunchtime start.
Strong winds started blowing shortly before the race, and a light drizzle cooled the athletes down along the route, before they crossed the finish line with the wind at their backs and the sun on their faces.
The first woman across the line was Andrea Ranger in 49:50. She was followed home by Tammy Kelly (52:09) and Debbie Ravenscroft (55:03) in second and third respectively.
“Luckily we had the wind at our backs while running along the beach section, which would have been the worst time to have it from the front,” said Ranger.
This was one of the 33-year-old’s first events since giving birth to her son just six months ago. Ranger said she looked forward to coming back and defending her title next year.
“The race was a lot of fun and I am happy with my time. I think next year will be just as good.”
In the 5km fun run, the first runner home was women’s race winner Sivenati Matikinca in 21:14, with Mbuyiseli Mema defending his men’s title in 22:47.
For results and photos, visit www.sparfamilychallenge.co.za, find SPAR EC in Action on Facebook or follow @SPAR_EC.
Wetsuit double mile winners Daniel Jones and Hannah Haswell proved to be in unstoppable form as they powered to victory in the men’s and ladies’ mile at the 91st SPAR River Mile festival at Cannonville near Port Elizabeth on Sunday. [Read more…] about Jones and Haswell take double win in River Mile
Top local runner Luthando Hejana blew his rivals away in extremely windy conditions to win the inaugural SPAR Family Challenge 10km road race in East London on Saturday. [Read more…] about Hejana blows away rivals in EL road race