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Sport
Join virtual 2020 Berg marathon

With the 2020 Berg River Canoe Marathon cancelled along with other sporting events due to the Covid-19 lockdown regulations, the race organisers have arranged a ground breaking virtual race called the ”Ultra Paddle”, which allows canoeists across the world to share in the enthusiasm for the 59-year-old classic event while raising money to support Canoeing South Africa’s food relief programme.

The four-day, 240 km race from Paarl to the Cape West Coast town of Velddrif, which was to have started on 8 July, always attracts a core of paddlers keen to test themselves against the river, weather and sheer distance of the race that has made it one of the toughest of it’s kind in the world.

The virtual race aims to make the multi-day epic accessible to a far wider audience than normal, by asking paddlers to cover the 240 km before the end of July, allowing athletes to take on the challenge in more manageable distances.

“One of the realities of this lockdown is that the average paddler is far less fit than he or she would be at this time of year, and it would be irresponsible to ask them to cover distances such as the 75 km in a day as they do of the third stage of the Berg,” said race organiser Brandon Macleod. “As an event, and as a sport overall, we will be fully compliant with all the lockdown regulations, and while we know the paddling community is desperate to get back on the water we have the be realistic.

“The Berg has always been about Ultra Paddling – taking on long stages for four successive days – and we want to keep that heritage alive during this abnormal year, particularly as we build to the 60th anniversary edition of the race next year.”

Macleod said participants pay a R150 participation fee, and they’ll get an Ultra Paddle race number, and on competition day a certificate with a personal coupon entitling paddlers to special benefits at the 60th anniversary Berg in 2021.

If participants cover 50 km before 31 July they will receive a bronze certificate, while 240 km will win them silver, and the full distance gold.

Participation fees will go to Canoeing South Africa’s ongoing relief programme delivering food parcels to canoe club members badly affected by the rolling lockdown.

Entries for the Ultra Paddle will open on www.berg.org.za next week. Please visit the site.

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