The annual Midmar mile will be taking place this Saturday, 7 February at the Midmar Dam, north of Pietermaritzburg. Each year, it draws thousands of competitors, from serious international athletes and Olympic medallists to purely recreational swimmers.
Although entries for this awesome and well-known event are closed, you can still go to support the swimmers.
Did you know that in 2009 the event was recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest open water swimming event.
The event gains its name from the location (Midmar Dam) and the distance (roughly one mile). A unique feature of the race is that while the distance covered is always a mile, depending on rainfall and the water levels in the dam, the distance swum varies from year to year. In years with poor rainfall, competitors are subject to the infamous Midmar sprint start: a bedlam of bodies sprinting across the muddy lake-shore and through the shallows until the water is deep enough to swim.
In order to handle the vast number of competitors, the swimmers swim out in 5 groups at three-minute intervals in 8 separate mile races over two days; the group division the swimmer is assigned to is based on a qualifying time in a previous (qualifying) event, with the fastest group leaving first.
Remember to look for weekend accommodation in the area on Junk Mail, your King of Local Classifieds.