No stopping wheelchair race

THE Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge (OCC), South Africa's only international wheelchair road race, will go ahead as planned on February 20 next year despite financial constraints after one of the major sponsors pulled out.

THE Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge (OCC), South Africa's only international wheelchair road race, will go ahead as planned on February 20 next year despite financial constraints after one of the major sponsors pulled out.

Vodacom is now the sole sponsor of the event and George, in the Western Cape, remains the host city.

"Parmalat SA has withdrawn because of the economic climate and a change in its social investment focus, but the race will go on," said event director Esther Watson yesterday.

"We have reduced the number of entrants from 600 to 500, we are cutting costs wherever we can and are actively seeking financial assistance from other sponsors.

"The race is called the Outeniqua Challenge and it is now a true challenge for us to keep it alive, but we are determined to do so," Watson said. "It means too much to too many people for us to allow it to end. The impact the race has on the lives of numerous people cannot be measured in money.

"It has so many benefits, such as helping to create healthier lifestyles and boosting the dignity and self-esteem of participants, who have numerous personal challenges to conquer."

Kenny Herriot of Scotland was the first international athlete to sign up to compete and enquiries have been received from several other countries.

Local entries continue to flow in and the organisers are encouraging participants from across the country.

Transport sponsorship provided by Kempston Truck Hire is available on application to the event director.

The deadline for entries is January 30. Competitors must be at least 16 years old to enter the 42,2km marathon and the 21,1km half marathon in a racing wheelchair or hand cycle. There is no age restriction for the 10km distance, which also allows basketball chairs, tricycles and wheelchairs.

Any person with a physical disability can take part providing they do so in a mobility-assistive device, namely a wheelchair, buggy, tricycle, racing wheelchair or handcycle.

For more information visit the OCC website, www.georgeocc.co.za, or phone Watson on 082-421-9359 or Marita Swanepoel on 083-610-2602. - Sapa

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