There’s a history to the Freedom Challenge, which was started by a somewhat moggy individual by name of Dave Waddilove. Legend has it that a few years ago he took a bet that he could run the 2 Oceans Ultra Marathon in Cape Town, then run to KZN and make it time to run the Comrades Marathon (Yes, I think Comrades has done much to promote the ultra distance mindset in SA, and thus all sorts of ultra-distance sport, and is yet again involved it seems). The following year there was apparently another dare or bet by the same Dave, this time that he could run the Comrades first, cycle on a mountain bike to Paarl, and be in time to paddle the Berg River Canoe Race. It was then decided to start a race called the Extreme Triathlon, which meant running the Comrades, followed by the Freedom Challenge Race Across SA, and ending with the Berg River Canoe Race.
It has changed a little since then as I understand, and there is now an 85km Umgeni Trail Run from Durbs to Maritzburg to replace Comrades, followed by the 2350km Race Across SA with a 26 day cut-oof, and ending with the paddling of the 240km Berg River Canoe Marathon.
However, for okes like us who sit in city offices day in and day out and are out of shape (and for Free States like Albert who can’t canoe or swim), they’ve been kind enough to allow us a shortened version which only includes 2350km of cycling from PMB to Cape Town, but no running or canoeing. Its sort of like the 2 Oceans Marathon starting up a half marathon.
It gets better. You can organize to ride all or parts of the Freedom Trail at other times of the year.
In 2009, Tim James set a record for the mountain bike Mountain Bike Race Across South Africa of 13 days, 15 hours and 50 minutes. Typically such characters do a lot of night riding, and sometimes sleep at odd times and in odd places out on the trail for a few hours. Some make it even more interesting, such as a chap by name of Glenn Harrison, who rides on a single speed bike. That’s right, no gears. This means he has to stand and peddle a lot more than those us who go Business Class (i.e. with about 24 speeds), and thus has to keep the weight of his rucksack down to 6-7kg. What people do for kicks. Take a look at his blogsite here.
Less than 2 days to go and getting impatient.
- John Loos