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, 11 June 2012

Start looms for South Africa's toughest endurance race (Source: Freedom Challenge Website)

Start looms for South Africa's toughest endurance race

SA's toughest MTB race, Race Across SA starts on Saturday” tweeted TREAD editor, Sean Badenhorst.

Over 100 intrepid mountain bikers are heading for Pietermaritzburg in Kwa Zulu Natal for the start of Freedom Challenge Race Across South Africa. This 2300 kilometre non stop race will take the participants on a true journey across the country. They will travel over the southern Drakensberg escarpment, across the expanses of the great Karoo and through the Cape fold mountains before they arrive at the finish at Diemersfontein Wine Estate in Wellington outside Cape Town.

With snowfalls forecast for this weekend and freezing day time temperatures predicted for much of the next week the riders can expect an unduly cold start. Riders will leave Pietermaritzburg in batches over the next ten days. Those riders leaving at the end of next week may miss the immediate snap of cold weather but they will still be subject to the vagaries of the weather. Heavy snows, driving rains and strong winds have been a feature of this race in previous years and it is unlikely that 2012 will be any different. “Finished last morning training ride. Four days to the real deal. Fear factor on the rise.” tweeted 2012 novice Rory Field on Thursday

The race is non-stop. As long as they stay on the race trail it is then for riders to decide when they sleep with the winners hoping to break the 12 days 15 hours and 30 minute men’s record set in 2012 by Alex Harris and the 2007 women’s record of 19 days 09 hours and 03 minutes. Most of the field will be merely hoping to arrive at the finish before the 26 day cut off.

For two time finisher, Stellenbosch student August Carstens, the journey to the start of the 2012 Freedom Challenge began two months ago when he started riding from Kilimanjaro southwards. In the course of his journey, he contracted malaria, rode amongst elephants and experienced the heart of Africa.

Others expected at the Pietermaritzburg start line include record holder Harris, single speed and tandem record holder Glenn Harrison and seven time Dusi canoe marathon winner, Martin Dreyer.

Those wanting to follow the race can do so by subscribing to the twitter feed @freedom_trail or by logging on to


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