MORE IS THE SCORE IN ‘MILLER’S RUN OF THE SEASON’
If you’re a downwind paddler then you’ve heard of the Miller’s Run.
The Cape Town course is the stuff of legend within the surfski community and its reputation has spread right around the world.
For many, surfing on a run past the iconic Roman Rock light house a bucket list dream.
And its attraction isn’t lost on the local crew who tackle it almost daily either.
“It’s something I often find myself doing, especially going past the lighthouse,” experienced Fish Hoek paddler Ian Black reflects.
“It’s just this pile of rocks and steel in the middle of the ocean but it’s been there for 150 years.
“You look around and just think how lucky we are to be physically capable of doing something like that, as well as how fortunate we are to have access to such a great and popular course.
“You just have to consider the number of guys who do around 100 Miller’s Runs in a year to appreciate how much it means to the local community.”
Its versatility is a point of difference too.
The Miller’s Run can be paddled in both directions, over a typically 11.7 kilometre course.
Whether it’s the howling southerly winds that often whip up large swell to go with it, or the offshore conditions out of the north that create a building downwind run, there’s always something on offer.
“For anybody that’s grown up in Fish Hoek, it’s a rite of passage,” Black says.
“It’s super easy to line up – I think the record is 10 runs in one day – and from a logistical point of view, it’s really easy to line it up and go.
“You can basically run it in six different wind directions and have fun on every one of them.”
It’s that ease of paddling, and the reverence held by its paddlers, that gave rise to the Miller’s Run of the Season.
In 2017, Black and fellow paddler Kyle Friedenstein came up with an idea to celebrate their beloved course.
The result was a season-long competition taken up by young and old, culminating with a handicap race-off.
And now, it’s back.
“Guys were asking me for a while when we were going to do it again… so that’s what we’re doing,” Black, the event organiser, says.
“The last time we ran it there was a lot of emphasis on performance with prizes for fastest times and things like that.
“This time, the focus is shifting on the everyday paddler – the numbers are in the guys that do it for fun.
“The idea is to log as many runs as you can.”
Paddlers will be rewarded for that, too.
For every documented run, they’ll receive a ticket into the end of season 50,000 Rand prize pool.
Inclusivity is the focus.
“It just makes it a bit more open and there’s a bit more of a push for everybody to get involved,” he says.
“As we go along there’s going to be different challenges that pop up, like racing your mates or guessing your times and things like that.”
The event window opens on October 1 and runs until February 28, and those who are on the ball with their registration will be rewarded for it.
25 to 30 knot winds are forecast for Thursday’s opening opportunity.
“The Miller’s Taxi, who has come on board as a sponsor, is already taking bookings for a 6am run on Thursday!” Black laughs.
“It’s effectively supposed to be summer, but we’re sitting around 12 or 13 degrees at the moment… it’ll be a big ask, but I think it’ll be a full taxi.”
The challenge will again culminate with an end-of-season handicap showdown.
The size of the field for that event will be determined by whatever COVID-19 restrictions are in place at the time.
“Hopefully by then it will be an open party and we don’t have to worry about COVID restrictions.” He says.
“On an average day, even for the fastest in the world to make up 20 minutes over 11 kilometres is pretty tense.
“So ultimately it will end up in a really exciting, fun race.”
And no doubt a hard-fought one, too.
Cape Town Is arguably the world’s greatest surfski nursery, producing a seemingly unstoppable production line of elite paddlers.
The Miller’s Run is their prime training ground.
“A lot of it comes down to the culture that surrounds our area.” Black says.
“There are very few guys that can tell you they’ve launched at Miller’s and had an easy paddle.
“No matter what, you always end up racing someone.
“Any day is a good day for a personal best.”
There’ll be plenty of those recorded over the next four months.