It’s not every day that an extraordinary adventure takes place on race day as it did at the Western Province Marathon Championships…
Sibongeleni‘s adventure took place on a Saturday in May 2022. The first unexpected turn of events at what he expected to be a normal regatta was that he was snagged like a fish out of water by a nearby fisherman who was casting his hook for his own Saturday afternoon fish braai. Sibongeleni’s (known to his friends as SK) beloved canoe shirt was ripped leaving him disappointed and flustered but ready to paddle onwards. His next challenge was that the wind came up turning the vlei waters choppy and tossing him clean out of his canoe onto a shallow sand bar. He was rescued by some Sea Scouts who happened to be camped out on a small island in the middle of the vlei. Was this good fortune and would it mark a change in SK’s luck?
Back at the marathon start, the coach began to wonder where on earth SK was.
Out of sight of the race start, SK was hauled, bedraggled but eager to continue paddling, onto the Scout yacht. He just needed their help to tip the water out of his canoe and then he could be on his way. Totally out of the blue, the sail boom swung around and clouted SK on his pip. What a blow that left him seeing stars! The intrepid Scouts were pretty sure that SK needed their first aid skills, but he was more determined than ever to finish his race.
Back in his trusty canoe, paddling with all his might, SK finished the race he had started! With a rip in his shirt, an egg on his head and the best story to tell, he was not the winner but he was certainly the champion! His coach was so relieved to see him and the race officials checked him out to make sure was not seriously injured.
Sibongeleni could easily have thrown in the towel but his perseverance, determination and love for paddling kept him focused on the finish line. What a champ, and what a great story!