This year is the 20th occasion for George to host the Outeniqua ‘Chair Challenge (OCC) on February 24 – and still many local citizens need reminding that this dual competitive and fun event is not only for wheelchairs. What’s more, there’s a most memorable experience to be gained from getting involved.
“The two categories in our competitive section are open to quadriplegic and paraplegic athletes, and then subcategories cater for competitors depending on the type of chair used,” explains organiser Alewijn Dippenaar. These include, among others, racing chairs, hand cycles, and basketball chairs.
So it’s no wonder that parts of George come to a vital standstill for several hours on OCC Day each February, with an extensive course blocked off for racing snakes on the 42.2km route, part of which is used for the 21.1km and 10km races.
There is also a fun 5km course completed by competitors in wheelchairs pushed by an array of awesome helpers. And among all entrants across the board will feature a colourful mix of not only South Africans from every corner of the country, but also nationals from Namibia, Ghana, Zim, Nigeria and Botswana.
OCC 2024 takes place at Carpe Diem School on Saturday February 24, but the premises will be buzzing with activity from Friday the 23rd between 11am and 6pm, when participants arrive in droves to confirm their registration.
“At 6 o’clock on Friday evening, as is the norm, we host the official opening ceremony for participants, and by Saturday morning the first riders start off at 7 o’clock – nice and early on that late summer’s morning,” says Dippenaar.
Once all competitive and fun races have been completed, an award ceremony concludes procedures at lunchtime on Saturday – and everyone is invited.
“Members of the public are very welcome to join us on the Friday night and Saturday morning, at no cost,” he adds, reminding that there are food stalls on hand for spectators, and many different ways to get involved.
“As per previous years there is a special category for businesses, each of which gets its own ‘kaskar’ that is powered by members of their team.” George enterprises and offices that have participated in this event before, taking place just before the start of the 5km fun race, will know that this ‘business boxcar’ category delivers on marketing mileage and much hilarity at the same time.
Of course, nothing gets done without the generous hearts of volunteers, and Dippenaar now invites members of the public to sign up as marshals on the route, or to help setting up the venue on Friday and assist with registration. On Saturday the 24th, help will be needed to stock refreshment tables, to move athletes around, and finally to knock down the venue.
So if you would like to rub shoulders with the likes of racing legend Pieter du Preez – who won gold in the 2020 Paralympics in Japan, and is the first quadriplegic in the world to complete a full Ironman – get in touch with Alewijn Dippenaar at email@example.com or on 082 457 5675. Sponsors of this year’s OCC are again headlined by George Municipality as premier partner, and joined by Lancewood, Safari, the Premier’s Office, Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs & Sport, Eden Sports Council and Algoa FM.