The seventh Big 5 Sports Challenge is currently underway as part of the annual Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival. The Big 5 Sports Challenge has become a bucket list item on the international endurance and adventure race calendar. Athletes compete in five predetermined events and a points system is used to determine the winners.
The first stage is the Momentum Weekend Argus Knysna Cycle Tour, which is an 80km mountain bike race and is followed by the Dragons Featherbed Lagoon Mile Swim, a 1.6km open water swim. This would be enough for most avid sports fanatics but you are not even past half way.
The third event is the Featherbed Trail run, which took place today, a 15km trail run. Not enough? On Thursday the athletes take on the Momentum Health Oatwell DualX, a grueling 37.5km off-road duathlon. The Big 5 Sports Challenge is completed by the Momentum Cape Times Knysna Forest Half-Marathon. A total of 155.2km spread over running, cycling and swimming. Wow.
Today we have passed the half-way mark of the Big 5 Sports Challenge and its the perfect chance to recap what has happened so far in this years extreme event featuring an incredible 185 entrants.
Day 1 – Momentum Weekend Argus Knysna Cycle Tour
Braving the extremely cold and muddy conditions defending champions Stuart Marais and Andrea Steyn emerged as the winners in the hotly contested men’s and ladies 80km mountain bike race. Stuart finished ahead young multi-sport sensation Theo Blignaut and an incredible 21 minutes ahead of 3rd place Dean Hopf. In the ladies race Andrea edged out Fienie Barnard in a pulsating finish with third place going to Ischen Stopforth some way behind.
Day 2 – Dragons Featherbed Lagoon Mile Swim
Bevan Manson, a former South African waterpolo player who is married to All Things Jabu favourite Marcelle Manson, surprised the field when he swam to victory over Theo Blignaut and Stuart Marais. Said Manson after his surprise win, “It was a little bit chilly, but a nice swim. Great to swim through the waterfront with lots of people watching us, and there was a great turn out of participants. I was worried as I hadn’t swum in cold water like this before, but it was fine, as the gun goes and the adrenaline kicks in you tend to forget about everything else.”
In the ladies race South African triathlete, Vicky van der Merwe, go the win she was desperately aiming for finishing ahead of Nicole Godfrey and the overall ladies leader and defending champion Andrea Steyn.
Day 3 – Featherbed Trail Run
Defending Big 5 Champion and the undisputed King of Knysna, Stuart Marais, continued to make good on his plan to clock a fourth consecutive BIG5 title and remains the one to watch for the final two challenges. Marais emerged victorious in 0:54.48 which was the fastest time of the day, and the 2nd fastest time in race history for the 15 km route. This was a remarkable eight minutes ahead of 2nd placed Theo Blignaut leaving him streaks ahead on the overall log.
World Duathlon championship runner-up, Andrea Steyn, maintained her overall lead after winning her second event in three. She finished Vicky van der Merwe and Fienie Barnard to truly underline her credentials for the title.
Where to find more
The last two events take place on Thursday and Saturday and you can follow all the action on the BIG5 Sports Challenge website www.big5sportchallenge.com or follow the BIG5 Sport Challenge on social media:
- Twitter: @Big5Challenge
- Facebook: Facebook/Big5SportChallenge
- Instagram: Big5SportChallenge
- Hashtag: #BIG5