River Mile to rebrand, now more family friendly ‘SPAR Summer Festival’

The 93rd River Mile will be rebranded as the SPAR Summer Festival to cater for a broader audience, organisers announced today.

Michael Zoetmulder of Zsports said that, in consultation with the partners, they had decided to change the name of one of Port Elizabeth’s longest running sports events to shift the focus from a purely swimming angle to that of a family festival.

“We want to attract more families so that they can enjoy the surroundings, activities and entertainment,” said Zoetmulder.

“It was felt that by calling it the River Mile we lost the attention of families who aren’t into swimming. There’s so much more to this event than just swimming.”

SPAR Eastern Cape advertising and promotions controller Roseann Shadrach confirmed their desire to promote the family aspect of the festival.

“We all lead very busy lives but we feel it is important to find a balance and events like this encourage family time.”

Shadrach added they had been involved with the festival for 18 years and that it tied it in with their key values.

“Our affiliation with the Summer Festival is synonymous with the SPAR culture of family, fun, fitness and a healthy lifestyle.

“We remain committed to making a contribution to the community by supporting events of this nature.”

The Summer Festival, which is hosted by the resort town of Cannonville, is again expected to attract around 5 000 participants in a variety of events on February 25 and 26.

The festival will culminate in the mile feature races for men and women, in which both Bay Eagles’ Daniel Jones and PE Amateur Swimming Club’s Hannah Haswell took their second consecutive victories last year.

A new event, Anything That Floats, has also been introduced to cater for those of a more leisurely nature.

Zoetmulder said the latter would add to the fun element they wanted to create.

“It is free to enter. Just bring your float and tackle a half-mile trip with the incoming tide on the Sundays River.”

Apart from Anything That Floats, the programme includes the Wimpy 5km family fun run, mountain bike races as well as the double mile, half-mile and disabled mile swimming numbers.

The half-mile has a discounted entry option for families of four, but Zoetmulder said participants had to register as individuals for the other races.

More entertainment comes in the form of food vendors, crafters, the Wimpy Rotary Kids Zone and the Castle Lite Beer Garden.

To enter or for more information, go to www.zsports.co.za.