An Unforgettable Experience

Spreading the Love – Sabrina Love Ocean Challenge, 28-29 December 2011, Southern Cape


The Sabrina
Love Ocean Challenge is not just another sporting event, it is the main
fundraising activity for the Sabrina Love Foundation. Established in 2003 by
Tony and Suzy Lubner in memory of their daughter Sabrina, who died at the age
of six from complications of a rare bone disorder, the Foundation supports
children and families living with physical disabilities in the Bitou region. Since
the Challenge started eight years ago, it has gone from strength to strength
and has become known as one of the best supported events in the Southern Cape.



Day one
kicked off at Plettenberg Bay’s popular Central Beach
while the second day saw a new start at the prestigious Kurland Polo Estate.
Participants could opt for one or more of the four sporting events on offer.


One of the
most exciting events of the first day included the 6km ocean swim from Robberg
Corner to Central
Beach. Though the sea
conditions were difficult and times where slower than in previous years, the
swim still lived up to its iconic status as Paralympic gold medallist Natalie
du Toit and Olympic long distance swimmer Chad Ho both finished in first
position in their respective categories. Natalie addressed competitors ahead of
the swim, encouraging them to have fun and to remember the Sabrina Love message
of hope.


In the surfski
paddle leg, Olympic paddler and Plettenberg
Bay local Michele Eray teamed
up with Neil Stephenson to finish third behind the winners Warren and Wayne
Jacobs. The single paddle was won by Kevin Hill in a time of 1:05:55.


The day also
offered something for those who prefer dry land, with Comrades legend Bruce
Fordyce hosting the 10km run, which was won by Kane Riley and Carlyn Fisher respectively
in the men’s and women’s category. The beach walk was once again the
atmospheric climax to the end of the first day’s events as hundreds of walkers
donned pink T-shirts and hats, welcoming the swimmers onto the beach.



On the second
day, the manicured grounds of the estate were draped in the now traditional Sabrina
pink, which contrasted against the lush backdrop of the Tsitsikamma mountain
range to make for a beautiful and fitting sight as the fundraising event
attracted record numbers. The Kurland Pavilion, better known for its hosting of
international polo matches, looked equally gracious serving as the event hub
from which the different races reached out into the surrounding mountains,
forests and lake.


The first
event of the day was the 600m lake swim over a star-shaped course, where
participants were required to exit the water at two points. Olympian Chad Ho’s
pure power through the water was enough to see him round the course in the
fastest time whilst Kamilla Snyman emerged as the winner of a strong women’s field.


Attention then
shifted to the 25km mountain bike ride, where 400 riders, many of them clad in
pink Sabrina riding gear, set off on a wide sweep of the estate, reaching high
into the beautiful mountains before descending onto long single tracks back
through the forests, over sparkling streams and onto the polo fields. No one
was too surprised when local mountain biking hero Kevin Evens streaked into the
finish chute to claim his second Sabrina Love trophy, while Nicky Booyens led
the woman’s race home.


The sun was
already high in the sky when more than 400 trail runners sprinted off into the
forests for 10km of pure trail running bliss. The intermediate course was
achievable for novices but challenging enough for elites. Melikhaya Msizi smiled
broadly as he sprinted down the home stretch to tremendous applause to take the
win, whilst Nicky Rider held off a close challenge from local runner Kerry
Scott in the woman’s race.



For many
participants, the Sabrina Kids of Steel event was the highlight of the day’s
proceedings as youngsters racing in their age groups from six to 12 were set
off on a specially designed adventure duathlon. A short swim was followed by a
1.5km exploration trail through the forests fringing the main polo field,
before the children got to finish under the same arch that many of their heroes
had passed under earlier in the morning. The Sabrina Love Ocean Challenge then concluded
with a spectacular prize-giving ceremony, but most of all, memories that will
last for a very long time.