River Canoe Marathon Media Release
: Dave Macleod
Berg River Canoe
Marathon 2020 cancelled
Paarl - The
organisers of the Berg River Canoe Marathon have announced that
the 2020 edition of the four day canoeing race from Paarl to
Velddrif in early July has been cancelled as the country
prepares for the worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The iconic paddling race was to have been held from 8 to 11
July, but with the current projections for the spread of the
novel coronavirus showing that July will be the peak of the
pandemic in the Western Cape, the organisers consulted with
regional and national stakeholders and, with the support of
Canoeing South Africa, there was consensus that it would be
impossible to stage the race in 2020.
“There was a good deal of excitement around the Berg this year,
with a new organising team in charge with plans to add
significant value to this iconic event, which makes it very
frustrating to have to accept that we will not be allowed to
host the race in July,” said race organiser Brandon Macleod.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde outlined that current modelling
showed that the pandemic would peak in the Western Cape in July,
adding that epidemiologists warn that at that stage the region
would see around 80 000 new cases of the virus in a week.
“We looked at a variety of suggestions to try and stage the race
in a way that observes all the lockdown regulations, but it is
clear that the seriousness of the projections for July that
there is no way we could think about holding the event safely
and responsibly,” said Macleod.
He added that the remoteness of the event meant that all the
participants and their support crews had to travel long
distances, many of them across provincial boundaries, and were
then reliant on local accommodation during the event.
“There were a myriad of factors to consider, including the
support crews, safety personnel and all the requirements of the
event safety plan, and in almost every instance there was an
insurmountable obstacle when viewed against the projected level
of the lockdown and the seriousness of the pandemic at that
“The Berg relies on winter rainfall, which heavily limits its
date flexibility, and the possibility of postponing the race,”
Regarded as one of the toughest ultra-paddling races in the
world, canoeists planning to complete the 240km long odyssey
need to spend months training and preparing, which has been
curtailed under the current lockdown.
“As South Africans we have all had to sacrifice a huge amount in
the lockdown period, and this year as paddlers we need to accept
that we will not be able to enjoy the Berg Marathon,
unfortunately,” Macleod added.
"2021 will be the 60th anniversary of the first Berg, and we
plan to make that really special. Hopefully that will motivate
the core Berg supporters to train hard to be part of that
milestone event," he added.
Canoeing South Africa president Kim Pople backed the decision to
cancel the 2020 event, saying that the sport had an overarching
responsibility to support the national laws designed to combat
the impact of the virus.
“The organisers really tried to make it happen, but we have to
meet every single regulation and requirement of the national
guidelines during the lockdown,” said Pople.
More information can be found at
Social media : #Berg2020
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Berg River Canoe Marathon
landscape on white - JPeg
2020 edition of the Berg River Canoe Marathon has been cancelled
due to the ongoing national
lockdown to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
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