The challenge that’s stood the test of time

By Joy Niemack

Darryn Lapham came in at a remarkable 2 hrs 23 min to win first position in this year’s Founders’ Challenge. Lapham was the only competitor to brave the challenge alone. The Beaver Creek Canoe Club was the first elite male team to finish, while the Dykes R Us team, consisting of Sabrina Chesterman and Julie Langois, won in the elite female section. 

Twelve elite male teams and three elite female teams competed in this year’s event. Two returning Rhodents, Tom Mapham and Justin Gray, who were the initiators of the first Founders’ Challenge five years ago, came back this year to compete. Their team, the Incredibles Team, finished in second position. The third position went to the Founders’ A team. In the women’s section, second place went to Team Total Power and third place to The Bronx.  

The challenge included a 600m swim at Jameson Dam, canoeing for 5km and cycling for 20km from Jameson Dam towards the Union lawns. Thereafter came a 5km orienteering route and a 10km run to the finish line. Lethu Mashinini, the race director, said, “It was a success: the weather was great and the sponsorships were better this year. The whole of Grahamstown got involved.”  

Competitors agreed with Lapham that the cycle route was difficult, as they had to cycle up the hill from the dam. “It was a cool course, although the hill was very bad,“ said Lapham who was still very excited about his achievement. Lapham led from start to finish and participated in the same event last year as an individual competitor.  

Shaun Walton, who was a part of the organising committee and also participated in the Challenge, said “I am pretty exhausted as it was a tough challenge.” Competitor Brad Cannon commented that “the cycle was tiring at times, but fun.” Ian Coulson expected it to be a tight finish for the second and third teams, which it was, with only about three minutes separating them. 

The day was filled with events and entertainment with the MC Simone Shelley keeping the crowds entertained and informed the whole day. The competitive atmosphere drew supporters and throughout the day spot prizes were given to the crowds. Other events included a fun run in support of Give 5 to raise funds, with Dave Orpen finishing first. 

Numerous sponsors around Grahamstown assisted in making this event possible. There may have been fewer teams participating this year but the competition and the challenge was as tough as ever. “The challenge is here: come face it,” Mashinini said to next year’s competitors.

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