Not only did the HI-TEC Walkerbay Xtreme (WBX) bring hundreds of athletes from all over the country to our region, it also served as an opportunity for local communities to build bonds through sport.
This year the flagship WBX Windsor Marine Mile offered residents and local businesses the opportunity to take part in a show of unity. Under the auspices of the Hermanus Business Chamber several local teams participated in the run that took place in perfect weather conditions, while scores of whales and dolphins put up spectacular displays as if encouraging the runners along.
Staff from Ocean Basket, Harcourts Hermanus, the Business Chamber management team and Zwelihle Youth Café took their places in the race that included not only serious athletes, but also parents and children teams, youngsters and the elderly. The distance was manageable (only 1.6 km) and the entry fees for community participants were affordable.
The WBX aims to be more than an adventure sports festival. It also wants to give residents, community organisations, local businesses and schools the chance to show some community spirit.
A group of children sponsored by the Zwelihle Youth Cafe were rewarded with medals, bags, meal vouchers and balls after completing the mile.
According to Youth Café owner, William Ntebe the affordable entry fees made it possible for them to enter a group of learners who usually participate in a photography class at the Youth Cafe on Friday afternoons. “The children really enjoyed the opportunity to take part in a formal race. The smiles on their faces when they received their medals was worth its weight in gold. They are super excited about the meal vouchers and cannot wait to be treated with food and milkshakes,” he said.
Gideon Serfontein, owner of Ocean Basket and chairperson of the Hermanus Business Chamber said staff working in town usually only have the opportunity to see events and festivals from a distance while they work. This year my staff had the opportunity to take part in the event and they were proud to represent Ocean Basket and to participate in something that they normally would not be part of.
“Everyone was very enthusiastic, and I hope we can make it even bigger next year. I think it’s a great opportunity to give everyone a chance to be a part of this event.”
“As we enter the quiet winter months, the WBX brings visitors and much-needed business to the Overstrand. We appreciate the fact that the organisers try to involve the community and we look forward to doing so again next year,” added Gideon.
Gerhardi Odendaal, CEO of Old School Group who organises the WBX said The Windsor Marine Mile aims to be a get-together opportunity for all communities in Hermanus. “We are thrilled that some businesses and community organisations made use of this opportunity and we hope that even more will participate next year.
“Since its inception, the team behind the WBX has sought to raise the profile of Hermanus and showcase the region as the breath-taking hidden gem it is. The primary reason for this was to boost the local economy and promote community development. The Windsor Marine Mile offers locals the opportunity to buy into this dream.”
The elite race was won by Maties track athlete Francois Bruwer in a time of 4 minutes 29 seconds. “I had a tough track season and it was fun to come to Hermanus and to run just because it’s enjoyable,” he said.
For this 800m athlete the distance was twice as far as he is used to. “As I left home, I looked in the mirror and asked myself: Are you really a miler today? But I’m very glad I did it and I’ll come again any time.”
He is one of many participants who used the opportunity to enter multiple events. He also won the Cliff Path Xtreme 5.6 km run in 19 minutes 35 seconds. On Sunday he managed a top-ten finish in the Walkerbay Xtreme Triathlon.
All the participants were cheered on by excited onlookers and by those enjoying a meal at nearby restaurants. The waves and smiles from the tired athletes showed their appreciation for the support, although a few of the youngest athletes missed the last 50 meters of the official course to take a shortcut through the parking lot straight to where they received their medals.