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 -

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Pre-Race Interview with Glenn - with Background Comment - Question 4

Question 4 of the pre-race interview with Glenn is with regard to who he believe to be the main contenders:

Background: The Race Across South Africa is an interesting one in the sense that its top contenders are often sportsmen who have made their mark previously in a different sport or discipline. So you don’t always know much about them as Freedom Challenge riders but you know a lot about their strength of character from their “previous life”.

JL: “Now to your opponents….are you prepared to speculate on who the major contenders will be?
Glenn: “Ja, I think obviously Alex (Harris) is a major contender. He’s got the current record…he plans to go faster this year, from what I know he’s trained a lot more (this year), he’s carrying less gear, and he’s got a more aggressive race strategy this year. So I think he’ll still be the man to beat. And he’s also very strong mentally…and he’ll stick to a plan no matter what. So he’s the man to watch.

The other guys are a little bit unknown because of their previous track records in this event, but the pedigree of the riders indicates that they can all be contenders…Martin Dreyer specifically (7 times Dusi Canoe Marathon winner). The time I spent with last year during the race he was very comfortable out on the trail…he didn’t mind the cold, and he was strong on his feet so he’s definitely a serious contender. I just don’t know much about his plans, because he’s been very quiet. Graham Bird is a similar one. He’s strong on his feet, he’s from an adventure racing background with just years of multi-sport endurance that he’s been through….so they could both surprise…and I think they might approach it differently where they might use the adventure racing tactic of going for 36 hours non-stop in the beginning…or putting in stretches of that every now and again, where typically before most of us have done up to 24 hours at a time. So that could upset things a bit. Other guys in the mix….Garth (Flanders) is a strong rider. He hasn’t raced himself for an overall position (before), but he’s a strong rider. Then there’s Gawie du Plessis who is going for the single-speed record….JL: and that’s just slower than the overall record…..Glenn: Ja, it’s a day slower than the overall record, so he’s got to go hard, so he’ll be a contender of sorts…but that’s a different ball game…a different ride… but he’s a strong rider. He’s done it once before, although he hasn’t recce’d it lately, …so good luck to him. And then Trevor Ball has ridden before, knows the route relatively well, and is also quite a good adventure racer and multi-sport athlete…but typically he’s always done it with his partner Ugene Nel who was the navigator, so I’m not too sure how Trevor will do on his own, but he’s definitely coming back to go faster. And ja’ who knows, there may be some other “dark horses”.

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