As the countdown to the 60th anniversary edition of the Berg River Canoe Marathon passed the two month mark this week, the race organisers have confirmed that they have plans in place to stage the four-day classic from Paarl to Velddrif from 7 to 10 July in full compliance with the prevailing lockdown regulations.
After more than a year during which the lockdown forced the cancellation of many sporting events, including the 2020 Berg marathon, there is a heightened interest in taking on the 240km odyssey to the Cape West Coast in July.
Race organisers have put in place plans that will enable the race to be staged within the protocols negotiated by Canoeing South Africa and successfully employed during the revised calendar of summer events, including the MyLife Dusi Canoe Marathon.
These involve doing away with registrations and prize-givings, overnight accommodation and other interactions that are in conflict with the social distancing requirements, smaller batches, strict sanitisation protocols, screening and taking of each person’s temperature daily and the requirement that all participants wear masks right up to the moment they are called to the water to start their paddle each day.
Each paddler will be allowed one person to act as a technical support, but spectators will not be allowed at the event, in adherence to the CSA negotiated protocols.
“The nature of the Berg lends itself to social distancing between the participants, as the long distances and the very nature of canoeing means that paddlers do not come into close proximity of each other,” said organiser Brandon Macleod.
He added that entries in K2s were being taken, to make the race more accessible to the broader paddling community.
“Taking on 240km in a K2 will give friends a chance to share the experience and enjoy the unique occasion of the 60th Berg, and hopefully inspire them to take on the race in a single.
The Berg is hosting a second Ultra Paddle virtual event in May, repeating the successful virtual event that was staged after the 2020 Berg was cancelled, as part of the build-up the 2021 race and to create a fun platform to help paddlers complete their base training.
“Finishing a Berg in a K1 is an accomplishment respected the world over, and the interest and support for the Ultra Paddle shows a keen interest amongst paddlers to test themselves against these long distances,” Macleod added.