Drama and records amid the confusion at iconic Surfers

SURFERS would simply not be Surfers if there was no drama. The event is complex given the various facets that bring it all together.

PADDLE POWER: The winners of the 2014 Surfers marathon, paddlers, Andrew Carter and Brendon Thompson, who finished
in a time of 1:04:28 picture: STEPHANIE LLOYD

The 2014 Discovery Surfers Challenge, the 40th running of the iconic event, dealt up a fair share of drama, inclusive of a new women’s record.

The positioning of the new Surfers 10 had runners split on the merits and the effect that it had on the main event.

Add in the confusion to the crowds in Gonubie of the Wild Coast runners starting before the 17.5km Challenge and arriving ahead of the leading runners, the outstanding feats of many who have run the race on 30 or more occasions, a 74-year-old winner of the first Surfers returning and you have the makings of a soap opera.

The Surfers is and always should be about the run from Kwelera Mouth to Nahoon Beach, as this is the race that is 40 years old. Everything else is an add on and side show, regardless of who runs or not.

The first runner home is a man of which little is known, but once Sizakele Dayimani took the lead in Gonubie he never relinquished it, nor looked likely to.

The winning men’s time, in stark contrast to a new record in the women’s race, was on the slow side and at 72:29 is 5:59 slower than the record set last year by Zingisile Marikeni who failed to make the start.

From the start it was a three-man race with 2007 winner, Doran Fritz leading the three-man pack of himself, Dayimani and promising teenager Andrew Spanjaard.

The three men dominated the race.

Spanjaard looked as if he might get a nose in front at Gonubie River, but the other two dug deep and hit the sand running hard.

All the while Myrette Filmalter, the 2012 women’s winner, was dominating the women’s race and on the stretch between Bonza Bay and Nahoon was closing on Spanjaard and Fritz.

Young Spanjaard must have glanced over his shoulder because he took off with speed he clearly did not realise he had left, opened the gap on Filmalter and closed on Fritz.

Shaun Meilklejon of Comrades Marathon fame finished eighth and given that he is 51-years-old and came second at the Nahoon point parkrun in the morning, is a commendable achievement.

would Comrades legend, Bruce Fordyce, was also in action and happy to mingle among the crowds.

Filmalter broke the record in 2012, Hanlie Botha took it back by two minutes last year and Filmalter reclaimed it on Saturday by 1:56 setting a new mark of 74:25.

Other women in the mix included Andrea Ranger, Janine Arends, Lundi Ncana and Sharon Shaw.

It is reported there was some technical indiscretion at the start of the paddling event and Andrew Carter who heads up this aspect of the race made the decision that prizes would be held over. Attempts to contact Carter for comment came to nought.

Neville Wilkins, the event convenor said “there was a technical hitch, but it is being sorted out.”

The Surfers 10 was won by Luthando Hejana, who had been expected to run the 17.5, but opted for the shorter race which was actually closer to 11km.

He was chased the entire way by Monde Polisiti. Their respective finishing times were 40:15 and 40:36. Third was Thandi Qeshile.

Hanlie Botha won the women’s race in 41:45 ahead of her club mate, Steph Smith, who recorded 45:30 ahead of her Buffs Marathon attempt next Saturday. Christine Lloyd took third spot.

Dougie Kunhardt finished his 40th Surfers to the delight of the crowd and his fellow runners, while Kenny Wilkinson, the first winner of Surfers in 1975 ran it for the first time since then at the age of 74 and beat off many a younger man.

He did say: “I don’t remember it being this tough the first time around.”