With the next finishers only expected at Diemersfontein tomorrow, things have gone a bit quiet as the race office took a well deserved break. Out on the trail though, we still have four riders - two blanket chasers, Dino and Stephen and two touring Slovakians, Roman and Katarina (they entered the race but opted to withdraw in Rhodes and carry on to the finish via the touring route).
Approaching the final support station today are Dino, Roman and Katarina. The were well on their way, having stopped for lunch at Kasra and were nearing the Brandvlei dam late this afternoon, on track to arrive at Trouthaven later this evening. They may have better weather than last weekend's finishers, with only light rain expected in the evening tomorrow, so hopefully the trek up Stettynskloof will be enjoyable for them. Dino will arrive just in time for the next leg of his challenge, the Berg River canoe marathon, which starts the next day.
Two days behind them is Stephen Kellerman. He's on his way to Rouxpos today, having passed through Gamkaskloof earlier today. It will be another late arrival for him but by now he's used to that, having done plenty of night riding in the last week. Last night he arrived at Prince Albert after completing his longest ever day on a mountain bike - this was part of his check in message: "...quite amazing though, on 105miles of dusty road there was not a single person or car in sight the whole day, until out of the darkness came Johann Rissik (just outside of PA) with coffee and rusks and encouragement! Today was a good reminder of Life - forward motion is often met with resistance, but we must continually choose to go forward and to persevere...thanks for the support!"
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