Few backdrops can compare with the scenic natural grandeur of Plettenberg Bay, and it is therefore no wonder that a record field once again flocked onto the Garden Route to take part in the ever-popular Sabrina Love Ocean Challenge, sponsored by Stonehage Wealth Advisors and Discovery.
More than 3000 athletes, weekend warriors and celebrity sports stars lined up for the 9th SABRINA LOVE, competing in a range of events as diverse as open-ocean swimming, trail running, mountain biking, beach walks and a ‘Kids of Steel’ mini-duathlon. The year-on-year figures have shown continued growth, with entries up by 25% from 2011.
Presented every year on the 28-29th December by the respected event-coordination team of Magnetic South, the Sabrina Love Ocean Challenge offers family fun to outdoor-minded residents and visitors. With a total of eight events over two days, it promises fresh air fun for all levels and ages of sport lovers.
The event was first conceptualised by local business entrepreneurs Tony & Suzy Lubner in 2003, in memory of their daughter Sabrina who passed away after succumbing to a rare bone marrow disorder. Nearly a decade on, Sabrina Love has become one of the premier fundraisers supporting families and children with physical disabilities in the Bitou Region.
Two events centres – Central Beach and the prestigious Kurland Polo Estate – boast routes perfect for trail running, mountain biking, surf-ski paddling and open-ocean swimming. In the words of event director Mark Collins, of Magnetic South: “Few other destinations in South Africa offer such varied and naturally scenic landscape as Plettenberg Bay, and it is easy to see why so many people return again and again to participate in the Sabrina Love Ocean Challenge”.
The run-down of individual events played out as follows -:
Open-Ocean Swim (6km)
One of the Sabrina Love Ocean Challenge’s flag-ship events, this rigorous swim starts off from Robberg Corner to finish at Central Beach, with swimmers back-dropped by imposing sea cliffs and pristine beaches. The event was dominated by Olympian Chad Ho and Megan Stephans, who both emerged as victors in their respective categories with winning times of 01h:03min49sec and 1h: 10min: 23sec.
Surfski Ocean Paddle (15km)
Another favourite event with competitors, the surfski paddle saw an exhilarating duel up front between local hero Michele Eray and a strong bunch of up-country paddlers? Eray won the solo category in a time of 1hr 07min 11sec.
Urban & Beach Run (10km)
The racing snakes were out in full force during the popular and super-fast Urban & Beach Run. Michael Bailey blitzed the opposition in a time of 35min 30sec, with Michelle Williams taking honours in the Ladies’ Category in 42min 40sec. More laid-back landlubbers could take it easy on the Beach Walk, with many families opting for a leisurely stroll along what must surely rate as one of South Africa’s most spectacular beaches. Hundreds of people, all dressed to the ‘power of pink’, contributed to a true festival spirit of goodwill and benevolence.
Open-Water Lake Swim (500m)
The second day of the Sabrina Love Ocean Challenge sees swimmers taking to the water within Kurland Polo Estate’s idyllic surrounds. Exceptional swims by Carol Reeves who also participated in the full Sabrina TRI and Johan Lourens saw them first out of the lake in respective times of 11 min and 10 min 15 sec. The manicured grounds of Kurland manifested in a vivacious symphony of pink and green, with the vibrant Sabrina Love banners back-dropped against the verdant fynbos ridges and distant mountain ranges. The internationally renowned Kurland Pavilion – usually reserved for prominent polo tournaments – served as a graceful event hub for the range of events to come.
Mountain Bike Race (25km)
Pedal power was the name of the game as top riders, saddled up to duel it out along a specially laid out MTB route set within Kurland’s sweeping estate grounds. Shaun Bester (Comrades Runner Nick Bester’s son). Carol Reeves was again dominating the Ladies’ Race.
Trail Run (6/10km)
The action continued unabated as over 500 trail runners streaked into the indigenous forest enveloping Kurland Pavilion on 6 and 10km of pure soul running. Emerald woodland and intermediate terrain suited all levels of runners, but it was the ever-green Michael Bailey who crossed the finish line in first place in a time of 37 min 03sec. Kane Riley followed hot on his heels, while local Chantelle Nienaber was untouchable amidst the fairer sex.
Sabrina staged Tri
Those that entered all three disciplines …
In first Mark Price in 02:01:59 and in the ladies Carol Reeves in 02:15:19
Kids of Steel (Swim + 1.5km Adventure Trail)
Approximately180 kids ranging in ages from 6 – 12yrs lined up for what many consider to be the highlight of the Sabrina Love Ocean Challenge. What awaited these youngsters was an adventure of note, with a safe swim followed by an exploration of the magical Kurland forests. Winning was not of the most importance, but rather having fun with friends and family.
The cherry on top after two perfect days of outdoor fun was a performance by Tigger of the Sabrina Song, accompanied by the celebrated Plett Field Band. Although all the moneys raised need to still be tallied, Event Organiser Christine Collins expect the event to raise good over half a million for charity.
More info on the Sabrina Love Ocean Challenge can be found at www.magneticsouth.net