This last weekend saw the running of the annual Surfer’s Challenge hosted by New Balance, South Africa. The event is essentially a “runner vs paddler” with both disciplines taking off from Long Beach, Kommetjie and covering the miles of beach towards Noordhoek before tailing it back. The conditions on the day however it what really makes this challenge tricky.
The 2011 event saw the first relatively windless day (after days of galeforce SE) and temperatures climbing into the 30s by early morning. Needless to say, it was both runners and paddlers battling it out across the course with the paddlers making it home first this year.
You can get the full results of the ski paddling event on SurfSki.co.za which also formed part of the Discovery sunglass hut surfski series.
From a paddler’s perspective, the first part of the paddle took us towards the famous big-wave reef, Sunset. The swell wasn’t pushing on the day which made for a safe passage across the reefs before turning towards the beach and making a turn near the surf towards Noordhoek. The paddle had mostly been into the wind and was hard going, but relatively cool. However, with the turn, and all the way back to the finish, there was very little wind to either help the runs or keep the paddlers cool. Turning in the corner at Noordhoek was a welcome, short-lived relief though as we slowed down a little and paused to look at the crystal torquoise waters with perfect visibility. Typically though, the ocean was ice cold after a week of galeforce winds. Any temptations to take a dip were sorely tested at first touch
The quick dip at the end though provided by a tricky outside set crashing on the Long Beach shorebreak came with it’s mixed blessing for some- but all in all, the event itself a great one to put yourself to the test in.
Personally, I’m hoping for a multisport option next year. This event is so great, I would want to do it twice. First paddle and then run