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 -

Monday, 18 June 2012

Race Across South Africa - Rider progress update as at 18 June at 17h00.

As at the 17h00 rider progress table update, there were still a good few riders' times outstanding. Of batch I, which started in Maritzburg today, Casper Venter steamed into Allendale at 15h00 to lead the average speed chart, as they do on Day 1 before Dana Waddilove's great food, and sleep time, brings the average right down.

But really the "talk of the town" today must surely be Trevor Ball and Mike Woolnough, who continue to blaze a trail at speed in the direction of Rhodes. They did 2 days in one yesterday, jumping Allendale and going all the way to Ntsikeni. This morning, they rolled out of Ntsikeni just after 05h00, popped in at Glenn Edward halfway station around 10h00, left at 10h15, and the most recent tweet had them leaving Masakala, the 3rd day's support station sleepover for most of us, at 15h58 for Malekhalonyane support station, which will put them 351kms into the race and well situated to get to Rhodes in 3 days (the normal programme is 6 days to Rhodes). This implies that tonight, 2 days into the race, they'll already be 2 days ahead of the 26 day schedule.....Take That al you Batch J riders....sense of urgency required tomorrow. 

Glenn did mention Trevor Ball as a possible contender for the title. I hope for his sake he hasn't got Mike on a mission after "ommitting" him from his contender list.

So Mike and Trevor are IT today so far. Other incidents were Rory Field who got bitten by a pack of dogs, and had to go off to the Dokotela at Barkly East for treatment. He's reported fine and resting at Chesneywold. Eish, this race isn't for the faint of heart.

Furthest down the road to Cape Town is Gerrit Pretorius, who tweeted from Romansfontein a short while ago. He appears to have gone ahead of his Batch A partner Hennie de Clerq, whose last time recorded was at Brosterlea' half a day behind' early this afternoon.

Weather-wise, Dave and dawn Bell climbed Lehana's Pass today (arguably the most spectacular portage on the race, up the side of the Southern Drakensberg) and down to Rhodes. They seem to have intended going on to Chesneywold this afternoon, but tweeted that foul weather (rain/sleet) had convinced them to call it a day in Rhodes (tough to get away from the warm fire in the Rhodes Hotel pub on a lousy day). 

So the weather is getting interesting as we await the final Batch J's departure from Maritzburg tomorrow morning. In this batch, Glenn Harrison, Alex Harris the record holder, Martin Dreyer of Dusi fame, Graham Bird from Merrel Adventure Addicts, the accomplished adventure racer, Garth Flanders, and Glenn's Ironman riding partner Andre Visser. 

Finally, we await news of August Carstens, the Extreme Triathlon on his way down from Kilimanjaro, who has injured his knee on Saturday in the Umgeni Trail Run. I hear he could hopefully be starting tomorrow in Batch J.   

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