The Freedom Challenge

The Freedom Challenge Race Across South Africa is an "unsupported" non-stage mountain bike race of approximately 2,300 km across South Africa. While recent winners have won in around 11 days, the race cut-off is 26 days. The race starts in Pietermaritzburg in early-to-mid-June, and ends in Paarl near Cape Town. Temperatures are known to drop as low as minus-10 deg. Celsius. While there are periodic "support stations" which will feed and accommodate riders should they require, the race is unsupported in the sense that riders must carry their own clothing and equipment, are responsible for their own maintenance and navigation (without the aid of GPS), and there are no marshalls or safety officials on the course (Race monitoring is done by satellite tracking). Estimates of cumulative ascent are around 37,000 metres, and the highest point on the route is approximately 2,700 metres above sea level. See the following link for an introductory slideshow by Mike Roy - http://mg.co.za/multimedia/2010-02-04-extreme-endurance-the-freedom-challenge

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The big disappointment - Glenn withdraws from the race today

Apologies for the lack of comms today. Have been flying round the country work-wise. The big disappointment was the withdrawal of Glenn today. The signs were already there last night when I spoke to him on his arrival at Centocow. The conditions were great for riding by all reports yesterday, but perhaps the body had not fully recovered from a recent bout of flu. And the problem with this race is that there is little opportunity for recovery once the race starts, given that the front racing snakes started off with about a 16 hour day, had a few hours sleep and then headed off this morning at 3h00 from Ntsikeni. It was Hella Hella climb yeaterday out of the Umkomaas Valley which really took its toll on Glenn, but he went through to Centocow to rest. By that time it was already apparent that he was weak and nauseous and the prospects were not good.

Him and Andre Visser rested there for about 3-4 hours, and then moved out up to Ntsikeni. But he hadn't recovered by 22h00, and the decision to go to Ntsikeni was solely to get Andre (who is a very strong rider but doesn't know the route that well) up to Ntsikeni before Garth Flanders and Graham Bird left today, so that Andre could hopefully ride with them. That did materialise, but they took 8 hours for what should have been a 5 hour trip to Ntsikeni, and Glenn's condition had not improved.

That was unfortunately where he finally decided to call it a day, having come here to race and not being able to nearly keep pace with Alex Harris and Martin Dreyer in his weak state.

The race blogging will continue on this site, and hopefully we'll have Glenn's commentary too, as soon as he gets back to a place where internet communication is possible.

And watch Glenn's riding partner Andre, whom Glenn will be trying to guide and advise remotely. He is new to this race, but has a handy Ironman time of around 10h30 as I understand. He may be up there on the podium at the end.

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