The organisers of the Berg River Canoe Marathon, which has been rescheduled for 5 to 8 August, have vowed to do everything in their power to ensure that the event takes place and conforms to the regulations governing the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown.
“We don’t have the luxury of being able to predict the future but we are going full steam ahead for the rescheduled dates of 5 to 8 August,” said race director Brandon Macleod.
“The 25th of July is the date that we are all working towards,” he added “That’s the date that the new announcements will come from the President and, working closely with Canoeing South Africa, as we have done throughout this whole process, we have a variety of plans in place.
“The best case scenario is based on being allowed a maximum of 100 people together outdoors. As things stand right now that would be fantastic, but we do not have our heads in the sand.
“Our realistic scenario is we are allowed no more than 50 people in one place outdoors at the race,” he explained.
“What is important for everyone to understand is that this will be a very different Berg,” he added. “It goes against the heritage and vibrant social nature of the race but we are going to be very strict about ensuring that everyone complies with every protocol put in place.”
Macleod explained that the race would be run with much small batches starting further apart than usual, and that each paddler would be allowed only one technical support person to second them, and that no spectators or family members will be permitted.
“With the 50 person limit in place we can expect batches of fifteen paddlers with strict scheduled arrival times, wearing of masks or buffs.
“It is so strange because the Berg is probably the most socially distanced sporting event on the planet because you often have ten minutes or whole kilometres between paddlers,” said Macleod.
Macleod explained that the staggered stage will include reversed order starts to get the slower paddlers under way earlier, allowing them enough daylight hours to complete each stage.
He added that there would be no registration or prize giving and that the race would not be able to formalise group camping or accommodation, but pointed paddlers to the event website for details on where to stay and what foods will be available.
“The 60th Berg is going to come at a time when paddlers, and the country, need something awesome to happen, and we are going to do everything we can to be that race that happens,” he concluded.