I have always been proudly South African, and by choice I would not want to live anywhere else. It was however wonderfully refreshing to hear someone speak positively about our country, to remind us to wear our green and gold shirts with pride.
I could continue this series for a long time to come… but for now, here are 10 reasons why I believe South Africa is so awesome.
The Biggest Races in the World
Sport is an important part of our national identity – we are a country of fine sportsmen and love any opportunity to test our strength and stamina. We have beautiful places that have become well known for their scenery and as the host destinations of big cycle, road running, swimming and canoeing contests. These events also happen to be the biggest races in the world in their sporting categories.
Every year as many as 35 000 cyclists take part in the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour, a tough 109 km cycle route that is made up for by the incredible diversity of scenery of the Cape Peninsula and surrounds. The cycle tour qualifies as the world’s largest individually timed cycle race and was the first event outside of Europe to be included in the International Cycling Union’s Golden Bike Series.
A beautiful capture taken during the 2011 Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour. Photograph by Greg Beadle, http://www.crank.co.za/
The Hansa Powerade Dusi Canoe Marathon is the world’s largest and the biggest canoeing event on the African content. Held over three days between Pietermaritzburg and Durban the 118 km canoe marathon attracts between 1600 and 2000 paddlers each year.
The 118 km Dusi Canoe Marathon. Photo credit: http://www.southafrica.net/
Athletes from around the world gather to compete in the Comrades Marathon, a gruelling 90 km ultra marathon. The race began in 1921 when it was run for the first time on 24 May. With the exception of a break during World War Two, the race has been run every year since. The direction of the race alternates each year between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. The Comrades is the world’s largest ultra marathon.
Thousands of runners take part in the Comrades Marathon every year. Photo Credit: comrades.runnersworld.co.za
The Midmar Mile
The Midmar Mile is a famous South African open water swim held across the Midmar Dam in Pietermaritzburg. The swim is officially recognised in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest open water swimming event. People of all ages, sizes, able and disabled bodied athletes as well as serious and recreational swimmers meet up in February each year to take on the challenge. The length of the swim is one mile (roughly 1.6km).
A aerial view of the Midmar Dam and start of the swimming event. Photo credit: www.midmarmile.co.za
Record Breaking Waves
The forces of nature have not stopped adrenaline seekers and sportsmen who live for the thrill of the ride. The waves at Dungeons, a surfing spot in the town of Hout Bay in the Western Cape, is recognised as one of 16 big wave spots around the globe. Dungeons is well known for the annual Red Bull Big Wave Africa surfing contest and for swells of up to 47 feet (14.3 m). Waves of up to 70ft (20m) have been recorded, a record breaking height!
A Diamond Nation – Rocks Fit for a Queen
It is well known that the largest rough diamond was found in South Africa. The Cullinan diamond is named after Sir Thomas Cullinan who owned the Premier diamond mine near Pretoria where it was discovered on 26 January 1905. The diamond weighing 3106 carats is about the size of a 330 ml soft drink can. The diamond was later cut into three pieces in Amsterdam. The Cullinan l is the largest of the nine diamonds that were cut and at 530,4 carats, it is the largest white polished diamond in the world. The gem is mounted in the head of the British royal sceptre. The second largest diamond, the Cullinan II weighs 317.4 carats and was set in the front of the circlet of the Imperial State Crown.
Glass copies of the nine diamonds cut from the Cullinan.
Walking in the footsteps of Dinosaurs
In 1977 an important discovery was made by the late professor James Kitching after he found a cluster of dinosaur eggs and embryos in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park situated in the Free State province. The Greater Karoo region of South Africa is another famous place for fossil findings and remains one of the richest fossil repositories in the world.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Photo Credit:http://www.southafrica.net/
The Oldest Mountains on Earth
The mountains around the town of Barberton are the oldest in the world and date back to 3.5 billion years. Some of the oldest gold and fossils have been found in these rocky mountain ranges and it is a wonderland for geologists who have claimed that these mountains contain the ‘greatest cross section of the Earth’s geology available on the planet’. Some of South Africa’s mountain ranges such as the Waterberg, Magaliesberg and Pilanesberg rank among the top 10 oldest mountains in the world.
Barberton is cradled by the Makhonjwa Mountains. Photo Credit: http://www.southafrica.net/
What do you love about South Africa?
CONTRIBUTED BY KATE COLLINS