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 -

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Marnitz die Nag Apie

Marnitz and his family reunited

The first finisher of the day has rolled across the finish line at Diemersfontein – Marnitz Nienaber, the Lone Ranger, the Sleepwalker, the ex-tandem rider and now the proud owner of his fourth blanket – an honour he shares with FC stalwart Tim James.

He started out on a tandem with his brother Werner and they pushed hard from the start. They were making good time but at Glen Edward on the third morning, things started to fall apart. Werner had developed major knee issues and they limped into Masakala. It was clear he couldn’t continue – what now? Marnitz was determined to carry on and after consulting the race director about his options, he decided to get hold of a spare bike and take a 6 hour time penalty. The bike arrived early the next morning and after waiting out the required penalty, he made his way across the floodplains to Malekholonyane. Along the way he had a few mechanicals, so had to rebuild the bike with some spares he got from another rider who had just pulled out. By the next morning he was ready to roll and immediately started his charge. A big double to Rhodes, briefly interrupted by a long ‘kuier’ at Slaapkranz and then many ‘slaapies langs die pad,’ saw him move steadily up the rankings and slowly start to reel in the riders ahead of him. He chose to ride at night and because he carried a sleeping bag, was happy to bed down whenever the sleepmonsters paid him a visit. Once up to speed, he managed to keep the wheels turning on only 2-3 hours sleep a night, stopping only to raid kitchens at support stations and to nap along the way, with Klaas Vaakie as his only companion.

The tandem brothers together again.

To come back from such a setback at the start and go on to chase down the rest of the field in the way he did and then finish 5th overall in a time of 15days 8hours40min, is a really impressive feat – ‘knap gedaan Nag Apie, slaap lekker vannaand .‘

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