Two more riders arrived at Diemersfontein last night - Gerrit Pretorius and Brian O'Reagan.
Gerrit left in the A batch, on the 9th June and finished in 23d 14h - two days quicker than his previous ride in 2006. He spent much of his time as the first rider out on the trail. As the 'Voorryer' this year, he kept the race office informed of any surprises out on the route, which in turn helped us to keep the rest of the riders informed of any issues. He also kept a daily blog going (which takes a lot of time and effort when riding) which provided an entertaining insight into his eventful journey. He had his fair share of navigation mishaps along the way - enough for him to claim that he was by far the worst navigator this year. But he had a great ride and finished smiling - well done Gerrit.
Brian O'Reagan had a very consistent ride and finished comfortably in 22d 14h. (At 62 years old, he is the oldest rider in the field this year) As a first time rider, he had the odd navigational hiccup which lead to a few late night arrivals but he always kept his head and bounced back the next day - in his own words: "I may have been lost but I always knew where I was." Despite finding the ride physically challenging, he thoroughly enjoyed himself out there and was full of compliments for the support stations, the food, the route and the the whole journey itself. Well done Brian, enjoy your blanket.
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