South Africa’s Ina Rowles took victory in the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge marathon, where more than 500 people with disability from across South Africa and abroad took to the streets of George on Saturday to compete in the 6th annual OCC, presented by Vodacom and Parmalat SA.
Racing in the OCC’s open T73/T54 women’s racing wheelchair marathon, Knowles finished in a time of 2:30:14, in the only South African event where local athletes can qualify for the Beijing Paralympic Games.
"It was an inspiring occasion for serious athletes, up and coming youngsters and those wanting to reap the benefits of a healthy, fun day in the sun," said event director, Esther Watson.
"The OCC is a South African national championship event, it is attracting a growing number of overseas athletes and it is becoming a must-do road race for increasing numbers of scholars and health-conscious people with disability of all ages."
The oldest person to take part this year was 93-year-old Rosie Tarentaal of George, while several children under 5 years of age participated in the fun event, pushed by eager family members. Youngest of all was Nazlie Kannemeyer of George, who was just 13 months old on race day.
Spectators were quick to recognise TV personality Charlene Truter and rugby World Cup hero Os du Randt, who drew loud cheers as they each pushed a youngster in a buggy in the fun event.
Proudly fulfilling its role as host city, George Municipality more than fulfilled its reputation as a wheelchair-friendly venue. Acting Executive Mayor Flip de Swart welcomed all the participants to the city and to the only mayor road racing event in South Africa exclusively organised for wheelchair participants.
The OCC was open to paraplegics, quadriplegics and people with cerebral palsy. It offered prizes to the value R229 800 in four events – a 42,2 km marathon, a 21,1km half-marathon, a 10 km distance and a 5 km fun event, where participants were pushed by helpers, friends and family members.
All told, more than 1 500 people were involved as organisers, volunteers, officials, chair pushers and participants. Details of all the winners are posted on the OCC web site.