Midmar Mile betters own world record

18 February 2010

South Africa’s 2010 Midmar Mile drew over 16 200 entries, with more than 14 200 finishers – considerably higher than the 13 755 finishers that earned the event a Guinness World Record in 2009.

The action began before 8am on Saturday 13 February when Terence Parkin, the most successful athlete in the history of the Deaflympics, set off on an epic record attempt aimed at raising funds for the Saint Vincent School for the Deaf.

A member of the Eight-Mile Club, which raises money for charity, Parkin began his day from the finish, swimming to the start for the beginning of event number one. From that point he joined in the race on his way to swimming 16 miles over the course of the weekend.

With a superb effort he achieved his goal, raising R9 800 at the Dam during the course of the weekend, with a further R20 000 being pledged from Midmar Mile organiser Wayne Riddin.

Highlight

Event one was for many spectators the highlight of the entire weekend. It featured various disabled categories, as well as the Ironman and Ironwoman competitions, which includes swimmers who also contested the Dusi Canoe Marathon or the Comrades Marathon, or both.

Craig Groenewald, who won the Most Successful Male Athlete Trophy at the Global Games (for the mentally impaired) in the Czech Republic in 2009, won the race for the 13th time in 13 attempts. He pulled away near the end from the former winner of the men’s 14 to 30 race, Gareth Fowler (who was taking part as a member of the Eight-Mile Club) to cross the finishing line in 22:42.

Fowler finished in 23:15, five seconds ahead of Terence Parkin. With Ryk Neethling, Fowler is the only three-time men’s winner in the 37-year history of the Midmar Mile.

South African Paralympic star Shireen Sapiro placed in the top 10, stopping the clock in exactly 26 minutes.

Crowd favourite Chad Gifford, who has no lower limbs, slightly improved on his time of 2009, finishing in 34:40.

Adri Visser, a three-time winner of the Courage Trophy, completed her swim in less than 40 minutes.

Roy Rees, at a sprightly 86-years of age, was the oldest male finisher.

Company Relay

Shaun Dias, the winner of the men’s title in 2008, won the Company Relay in 21:32. Thandu Thusi placed second, but with Dias brothers Gareth and Paul finishing third and sixth respectively, Dias and Sons romped to an easy victory.

They finished almost 11 minutes clear of second-placed Mr Price, with Swim Styles taking third, half-a-minute further off the pace.

German stars Christian ­Reichert and race newcomer Alex Studzinski, swimming for Team International, left the rest of the field in their wakes in the Non-Company Relay. In the final 400 metres, Studzinski pulled four seconds clear of Reichert, the fourth-place finisher in the men’s race in 2009, to take the win in 20:05. Wesley Gilchrist of USN Spike was the third-placed finisher.

With Tyrone Venter, who had swum 25 km on Friday, finishing seventh, Team International were convincing winners of the event and the two Germans sounded a warning to South Africa’s big guns, Riaan Schoeman and Chad Ho, who weren’t in action, ahead of Sunday’s main men’s race.

Team International’s combined time was 1:01:37, with USN Spike second in 1:03:12, and Varsity College third in 1:11:07.

There were 3 009 finishers in the event, slightly off the world record 3 110 finishers, which was established in 2009. Among them was 86-year-old Lorna Cochran, the oldest female finisher of all. A total of 3 526 people entered the race.

Women’s race

On Sunday, the women’s 14 to 30 race was dominated by British swimmers, who occupied the first five places.

Katy Whitfield set the early pace, leading the way through the hot spots at 400, 800, and 1 200 metres. However, once the race reached about 1 300 metres, defending champion Keri-Anne Payne, the world 10-kilometre champion, took over at the front and opened up a small gap on her compatriots.

She crossed the finishing line in 19:27 to win the Midmar Mile for a fifth time, only one victory less than the record six victories held by Natasha Figge. Whitfield was second, three seconds behind Payne, with Cassie Patten a further three seconds back.

Kathryn Meaklim was South Africa’s top performer, finishing in sixth place in 19:40, with Rene Warnes taking seventh in 19:55.

Men’s race

The men’s race proved to be one of the closest in the 37-year history of the Midmar Mile.

Chad Ho, the winner of a bronze medal in the five-kilometre open water swim at the World Championships in Rome in 2009, took the early lead, followed by Capetonians Heerden Herman and Danie Marais. Just behind them were defending champion Riaan Schoeman, former champion Shaun Dias, and the German pair of Alex Studzinski and Christian Reichert.

At the halfway mark, Schoeman and Studzinksi moved up to join Ho at the front of the pack. With 400 metres to go, it was Schoeman who took a narrow lead, but as the finishing line neared the race for victory became even tighter with Myles Brown and Great Britain’s Daniel Fogg moving up to challenge.

At 200 metres, six men were still in with a chance of victory. Schoeman put in a spurt, but Ho and Studzinski answered him, while Fogg upped his pace to take a slight lead.

The Briton held a slight advantage at the slipway at the finish, but Ho, with a final mighty effort, edged ahead and took victory in 18:39, with Fogg being credited with a time of 18:40. Schoeman was third in 18:42, followed by Studzinski in 18:43 and Brown in 18:45.

Great Britain’s David Davies, with a best time of 14:45.95 over 1 500 metres – about 16 seconds better than Ryk Neethling’s South African record – was expected to be in the mix for the title, but managed only 16th place.

Joshua Dannhauser won the boys’ 13-and-under title in 22:34, while the girl’s winner Michelle Weber was even faster, clocking 22:00 to edge out Kyna Pereira by one second.

RESULTS

Men

    1. Chad Ho (RSA) 18:39
    2. Dan Fogg (GBR) 18:40
    3. Riaan Schoeman (RSA) 18:42
    4. Alex Studzinski (GER) 18:43
    5. Myles Brown (RSA) 18:45
    6. Shaun Dias (RSA) 18:51
    7. Chad Le Clos (RSA) 18:57
    8. Christian Reichert (GER) 19:00
    9. Tom Allen (GBR) 19:00
    10. Heerden Herman (RSA) 19:02

Women

    1. Keri-Ann Payne (GBR) 19:24
    2. Katy Whitfield (GBR) 19:27
    3. Cassie Patten (GBR) 19:30
    4. Charlotte Wooliscroft (GBR) 19:34
    5. Sophie Casson (GBR) 19:34
    6. Kathryn Meaklim (RSA) 19:40
    7. Rene Warnes (RSA) 19:55
    8. Nicole Brits (RSA) 20:05
    9. Brittney-Odette Cameron (GBR) 20:57
    10. Megan Stephens (RSA) 21:33

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