About 50 clan members and their families, spouses and friends gathered at Diemersfontein in Wellington over the weekend to share some fine food and wine. Dressed in their bright red race tops, the riders were there to feed their still hungry race appetites and to relive the adventures with those who understood what they'd been through. The wine flowed freely and war stories were swopped until the early morning hours.
|Looking back over 10 years|
During a brief talk, race director, David Waddilove, highlighted some of the developments and personalities that have grown out of the Freedom Challenge over the last ten years. He also looked into his crystal ball, suggesting that the way to possibly grow in future would be to expand the online following of the event, rather than the actual number of riders taking part - a wise option for an event that relies on the hospitality and goodwill of others.
All riders who have have completed the Freedom Challenge get the same thing - a finishing time, a pizza and a blanket. A more recent tradition has been the introduction of the 'Stone Saddle' award. This floating trophy is awarded to the finisher who best embodies the spirit of the event each year and is decided on by a vote from fellow riders. This year it was awarded to Avril Metelerkamp - a truly deserving winner. (More about her ride here)
|Avril and the Stone Saddle|
A new award for this year was the 'Vasbyt' award - with a trophy supplied by sculptor Eric Tollner, one of this year's riders. The winner this year was Roy Mottram, who despite not finishing, showed incredible tenacity out on the trail. (More about his ride here)
And so, after welcoming some new members to their ranks, the clan of Blanket Wearers has dispersed once again - back to normal lives with fond memories of an amazing journey completed and truly enriched by the their experiences. Who knows what the next 10 years will hold for the Freedom Challenge... the race format may change, the route itself may evolve and the coverage of it could surely expand. No doubt, the Clan will continue to grow, both in number and in spirit and the future of this remarkable event looks as bright as the sunny winter skies under which they rode in 2013.