South Africa’s “aQuelle Midmar Mile” will be the host of the 2017/18 GSS – African Championships on February 10-11, 2018.
Interestingly, the aQuelle Midmar Mile is the largest race in the world, with over 16,000 swimmers, and it joins the second largest race in the world, Sweden’s Vansbro Swim, with over 15,000 swimmers, which we recently announced will also be hosting a GSS Regional Championship, the GSS – European Championship.
The Global Swim Series is very proud to have all 122 member races in the Series and especially proud to have the such spectacular races host our Regional Championships. It shows the popularity and common passion to grow the sport of open water swimming around the world that all these races have in common with the GSS.
Size isn’t everything, in fact, one of the great things about the Global Swim Series is that all 122 races bring something different to the table. However, size certainly is something. It may not be the only important metric by which to measure the success of an event, but it does say a few things. It says that a lot of people consistently find these races really enjoyable. And it may be enjoyable for any number of reasons, such as competitiveness, inclusiveness and just plain fun.
The people in this area are pretty unique. Not unlike the people in Sweden, where the second largest race in the world is. While it is hard to predict where the most “active” people in the world are, South Africa and Sweden might not have been your first guess. But like Sweden’s Vansbro Swim, the aQuelle Midmar Mile ties it’s race in with other unbelievable sporting events that also just happen to be in the same neighborhood.
The largest (20,000 runners) and oldest (1920) ultra-marathon in the world is The Comrades Marathon. A 89 km ultra between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. Then there is also the 120 km, Dusi Canoe Marathon, again between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, which is also one of the largest canoe races in the world (2,000 paddlers)! There is even a special award for doing all 3 events!
As for the aQuelle Midmar Mile, it isn’t the oldest race, as it was established in 1974. The oldest, continuously run open water race is another GSS race, the Liffey Swim in Dublin, Ireland, which has never missed a year since 1920, which means it is only 2 years away from it’s 100th anniversary. But the aQuelle Midmar Mile certainly has an amazing and unique history in the world of open water swimming. At just a mile long, so it certainly isn’t the longest either. But at just a mile long, it does make it very inclusive for swimmers of all abilities. And that includes fast swimmers! This group regularly includes a large group of Olympians and world class swimmers, in fact, the aQuelle Midmar Mile regularly gets some of the fastest swimmers in the world flying in to battle it out for the prestigious title! As of this year, the winners will also hold the title of GSS – African Champions too! But the vast majority of the 16,000 swimmers are regular mortals who just love swimming!
So no matter how you look at it, this is one of the truly great sporting events in the world… and one you want to put on your swimming bucket list. Near the top!