8 February 2024 – Over 200 intrepid swimmers kicked off their arduous 8 and 16-mile Charity Challenges at the aQuellé Midmar Mile this morning.
Among those setting off on the mission to raise money for the official race charities was Jason Raath who has completed the 8-mile challenge eight times and decided to do something a little different this year.
The 48-year-old financial advisor will swim eight miles across Thursday and Friday and then another eight on Saturday and Sunday, but for the last two days, he’ll be running between the finish and start on opposite sides of Midmar Dam in a cow suit – all in aid of raising funds for children’s cancer charity CHOC.
Raath explained that supporting CHOC was an obvious choice for him after an experience taking part in the 94.7 Ride Joburg cycle race a few years ago.
“A group of us towed a terminal cancer patient around as it was a bucket list item for her. She was only seven or eight and sadly passed away the following year. She was the same age as my younger daughter at the time and that resonated with me. Apart from that, she was just so brave,” he said.
“I’d done various events for various charities over the years and I think my donors were becoming confused. I therefore decided I needed to stick with one and CHOC was the obvious choice. They do such incredible work and make an enormous difference to the little people suffering from cancer and their families.”
Asked about the training he’s done in preparation for the weekend’s challenge, Raath’s response was a rather relaxed one: “It’s not as gruelling as you’d think. I’ve done maybe one or two runs to the gym to swim, followed by a run home just to try it out. My general fitness has been pretty good over the last few months.
“I rode the 94.7, in a cow suit, in November and I faired pretty well without too much cycling in the bag. I’ve been swimming a lot with my swim buddy, who’s also doing 8 Mile, and I’ve been running quite a bit as well. I’m hoping I can string together running and swimming well enough on the weekend to not feel totally shattered afterwards.”
As for what brings him back to the aQuellé Midmar Mile each year – apart from raising funds for CHOC – Raath reckoned: “The atmosphere is incredible and the support on both sides of the dam is always amazing. Midmar was my first open water swim ever, and I suppose it’s the one everyone feels they should do at least once. I went to school in the area as well, so I’m quite biased towards the KZN Midlands.”
A total of 186 swimmers have signed up to take part in the 8-mile Charity Challenge this year with 20 taking on the 16-mile event.
The aQuellé Midmar Mile is taking place at Midmar Dam in KwaZulu-Natal from 8-11 February 2024. Entries will still be possible at the dam on race day but those wishing to enter should allow plenty of time for registration. Also, swimmers are advised that there will be no shuttle service between the finish and start areas, so participants must make their own arrangements to get to the start.