So a link to an online survey was posted to all Big 5 participants this week. It seemed to have two focus points: firstly to establish whether accommodation package deals for Big 5 competitors would be popular and secondly to gauge response to the concept of a Big 5 Lite.
In short my understanding of the proposal is that Big 5 Full would include the full Knysna Marathon which up till now has been optional, the half marathon being the norm. As someone who did the full in the 2013 Big 5 by choice, I can tell you that running a marathon after a week of racing is no mean feat, and certainly makes for a far tougher challenge. Let’s be honest: any fit multisporter can run a half marathon with ease!
I feel it also addresses an imbalance in terms of cyclists — especially MTBers — having a distinct advantage over runners. I admit to not being strong on the MTB, however, I think a survey of Big 5ers would reveal that whilst they felt pushed in the 80km MTB and the MTB portion of the XTERRA, they breezed (relatively speaking) through the half.
Failing the introduction of the Big 5 Full with the Full marathon as compulsory, to even the playing field a bit it would only be fair that if the Big 5 includes a half marathon option, then it should include the option to do the 50km MTB in place of the full 80km.
Currently, the Challenge is made up of a selection of the following to make up the 5:
- Pick ‘n’ Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna MTB race (80km)
- Pick ‘n’ Pay Rotary Knysna Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Road race (100km) or Knysna Lagoon Challenge (22km)
- Salomon Featherbed Trail Run — Coelacanth (14km)
- Totalsports XTERRA presented by REHIDRAT Sport (Full)
- Pick ‘n’ Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon or Pick ‘n’ Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Half Marathon
I am assuming this would be expanded to the following (based on the options / distances already available at the respective 2013 events):
|Big 5 Full||Big 5 Lite|
|Pick ‘n’ Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna MTB race (80km)||Pick ‘n’ Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna MTB race (50km or 30km)|
|Pick ‘n’ Pay Rotary Knysna Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Road race (100km) or Knysna Lagoon Challenge (22km)||Pick ‘n’ Pay Rotary Knysna Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Road race (50km) or Knysna Lagoon Challenge (10km)|
|Salomon Featherbed Trail Run — Coelacanth (14km)||Salomon Featherbed Trail Run — Seahorse (11km)|
|Totalsports XTERRA presented by REHIDRAT Sport (Full)||Totalsports XTERRA presented by REHIDRAT Sport (Lite)|
|Pick ‘n’ Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon||Pick ‘n’ Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Half Marathon|
In the future other considerations will hopefully include additional water disciplines, and as Bryan Allott pointed out to make it a true multisport challenge, a compulsory water sport. This might mean promoting the very successful Dragon Mile Swim to a Big 5 Challenge event and offering it alongside the Knysna Lagoon Challenge paddle as the compulsory watersport leg, replacing one cycle event.
Regardless, it’s a positive sign that new options are being considered.