The Game Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge (OCC) – South Africa’s only national wheelchair race – takes to the scenic streets of George for the fourth time on 18 February 2006.
With Game Stores as the title sponsor, two sub-sponsors have come on board this year – the George Municipality and George Medi-Clinic – demonstrating a strong show of confidence in this rapidly growing event.
The race is the brainchild of George occupational therapist, Esther Watson, which she organises with a team of dedicated volunteers.
Last year, the event attracted 285 entrants ranging in age from eight to 76 years. Next year about 390 people from across the country and abroad are expected to compete in the 42,2 km marathon, the 21,1km half-marathon, the 7 km independent distance and the 7km fun event.
The event is open to paraplegics, quadriplegics and people with cerebral palsy. Any disabled persons in a wheelchair can enter the 7km fun event assisted by a helper. In the marathon and half marathon events, competitors must be at least 16 years of age and may use racing wheelchairs or hand cycles. There are a number of different categories to suit all age groups and genders, with prize money ranging from R100 to R 5 000. The closing date for entries is 10 January 2006.
World champion wheelchair athlete Ernst van Dyk has again committed to defend his title in the marathon. Since his victory in last year’s challenge he has won the Boston Marathon for the fifth time, three medals at the Athen Paralympics, the Argus Cycle Tour and numerous wheelchair and hand cycle races in Europe and the USA.
Comrades giants Bruce Fordyce and Andrew Kelehe will make the day of two participants in the 7km fun event as they push them throughout the race. They will be joined by inspirational Capetonian Bruce Walsh, who will also push a competitor in this event, despite losing the lower part of both his legs in the Planet Hollywood bombing. (Picture:World champion wheelchair athlete Ernst van Dyk – five times winner of the Boston Marathon – will be defending his title in the marathon of the Game Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge in the scenic town of George on 18 February 2006.)
An exciting new feature of next year’s race is the introduction of a coaching clinic to be run by Ernst van Dyk and international expert Scott Hollonbeck, who is an acclaimed American athlete and race administrator, and organiser of the Wheelchair World Series in the USA. This will take the form of a ‘coach the coaches’ session and an athlete’s session on 17 February 2006.
The race has been accorded championship status by the SA Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (SASAPD). Registered members of the association can use their times from the Game OCC to qualify for provincial and national colours. The race has also been endorsed by a number of sporting bodies including the Quadriplegics Association of SA and the National Sports Commission.
For more information phone Esther Watson on 082 421 9359 or visit the web site: www.game-occ.co.za