The final countdown to the 2020 aQuellé Midmar Mile officially began with the press launch of the event in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.
The world’s largest open water swimming event will take place at Midmar Dam from 8-9 February.
Speaking at the launch of the event, organiser and two-time winner of the race Wayne Riddin said: “All the planning and set-up has been done and we’re ready to welcome the thousands of participants that will converge on KwaZulu-Natal for a phenomenally festive weekend of great swimming action.
“We’ve got an impressive line-up of international stars, all looking to start off their Olympic qualifying campaigns on a positive note.”
Among those swimmers are South Africa’s seven-time champion Chad Ho, the man who finished runner-up in last year’s race Michael McGlynn, and another of the strong home challengers Danie Marais (third in 2019).
Among the international contenders are 2018 runner-up Ashley Hogg from Britain and speedy American Brendan Casey, who’ll be taking on the aQuellé Midmar Mile for the first time.
On the women’s side, South Africa’s Michelle Weber will be gunning for a repeat of her 2016 victory, while up and coming star Leigh McMorran is looking to make her mark in the senior ranks.
But the aQuellé Midmar Mile is not only about the elite who will challenge for the main men’s and women’s titles on Sunday.
“There are the faithful regulars like our formidable 87-year-old founder Mike ‘Buthie’ Arbuthnot, who’s swum every single Midmar race since 1974, the intrepid bunch of swimmers looking to swim all eight miles over the weekend, and then the incredible group of eight who are swimming a total of 16 miles – all to raise funds for a variety of deserving charities.
“Added to that are the families, the first-timers, the disabled stars, and so many others with personal stories of courage and determination. It’s just a wonderful weekend all round,” added Riddin.
The action will kick off on Saturday with the first of four races starting at 8:15am, and the final race at 12:15pm. Sunday’s first of four events gets under way at 8:30am with the main women’s race scheduled for 11am and the men’s for 12:15pm, which will wrap up the weekend’s festivities.
aQuellé Midmar Mile Schedule
Saturday, 8 February 2020
8:15am: Event 1 – Disabled / Ironman / Ironwoman / Biathlons / 71yrs+
9:45am: Event 2 – Family team
11am: Event 3 – Company relay
12:15pm: Event 4 – Non-company team
Sunday, 9 February 2020
8:30am: Event 5 – Girls 13 & under / Women 31 & over
9:45am: Event 6 – Boys 13 & under / Men 31 & over
11am: Event 7 – Women 14 to 30
12:15pm: Event 8 – Men 14 to 30
Entry fees to get into the dam
Please note the entry fees payable in cash to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to get to the dam for the aQuellé Midmar Mile are as follows:
• Pedestrians: R40 per person
• Cars: R100
• Combis: R150
• Small buses: R400
• Large buses: R800
For all other information, log on to www.midmarmile.co.za
Pictured above: (From left): International Masters swimming star and 1977 Midmar champion Paul Blackbeard, British contender Ashley Hogg, 2016 women’s champion Michelle Weber, seven-time winner Chad Ho, and another of the British contenders Bailey Hairsine at the launch of the 2020 aQuellé Midmar Mile at Cascades Lifestyle Centre in Pietermaritzburg.