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RTR / RASA 2019 NEWS FEED

RASA | RTR 2019 Partners

7 July 2019

By: Mike Roy

The daily reports from here on in are going to get shorter and shorter. This makes sense given that wave after wave of riders are completing their journey to receive their blankets. By late tonight twenty two riders will be in at Diemersfontein, and only twenty will still be out on the course. Numbers of riders expected to finish over the next few days (with their estimated finishing time in brackets) are as follows:

·      Monday 8 July (all at Trouthaven)

o  Willem Kamstra (20 days +)

o  James Cruikshank (19 days +)

o  Bryn Roberts (19 days +)

o  Bryn Roberts (19 days +)

o  Radislav Zamandi (19 days +)

·      Tuesday 9 July (all at McGregor except otherwise indicated)

o  Johann Lombard (21 days +)

o  Sandy Maytham-Bailey (21 days +)

o  Hanko de Beer (21 days +)

o  Renier vd Merwe (18 days +)

o  Andrew Ryan (18 days +) 

o  Gary Scoular (18 days +)

o  Grant Cowan (18 days +)

o  Grant Hill (17 days +)

o  Anthony Avidon (16 days +)

o  Leon Kruger (17 days +) (Montagu)

o  Alex Kingwill (20 days +) (Montagu) (blimey Alex you have motored the last week..!)

·      Thursday 11 July (still in Die Hel) – assume four days

o  Kobus Nel (21 days +)

o  Alan Rainnie (21 days +)

o  Francois Roux (21 days +)

o  Mark Smuts (21 days +)

I guess there is a chance that some of the McGregor crowd could gap it all the way to Diemersfontein – in fact I think there are quite a few candidates there that are probably thinking of exactly that. I’m looking at Grant Hill in particular. Hang on, I’ve just had word from my informer in McGregor – can’t say who it is but she tells that there is not the slightest intention from anyone to go any further than Trouthaven tomorrow. I can only imagine that the eleven riders that have arrived or are about to arrive in McGregor will have a very pleasant evening at Pony Cottage. I do recall hearing that the weather is not great and the ride around Brandvlei consequentially difficult, so perhaps not a bad strategy. It 108km after all.

By Thursday late evening the last rider should arrive and everyone will be in time for the Finishers Dinner on Saturday 13 July. Don’t miss this dinner, it’s a gathering of the Freedom Challenge Community, past and present. The winner makes a speech, some deserving soul gets the Stone Saddle Award (bravest rider, something along those lines, kinda like a Victoria Cross). I think I know who is going to get the Stone Saddle this year. Only question is, will he be able to navigate his way to the finisher’s dinner..? Actually there may well be a couple of other contenders. There was an epic ride from the back of the field that is worth mentioning.

Mainly it is a gathering of like-minded souls who hold this race very close at heart. Everyone beams lovingly at each other. There will a smattering of the old red FC race fleece tops, worn with pride by the pioneers of the race. I think the last red fleece top was nearly ten years ago. Perhaps Chris has a picture of someone in a red fleece top to go with this report. I may be treading on dangerous water here but I don’t think any of the subsequent tops are a patch on that familiar old red FC top. Perchance a return some day?

Today was an epic day in Stettynskloof. Seventeen riders went through, quite a number have already finished at Diemersfonetin and the rest are still making their way up du Toit’s pass. I’m not sure about Fanus Venter and Brad vd Westhuizen, their trackers show them not yet over the exit saddle from Stettyns. I’ll see if I can get an update from elsewhere.

What is clear is the outstanding performances by this year’s field. The whole field, not just the podium finishers. Some reflection:

1.    Likely that forty twoof the original field of forty seven will be in in less than twenty twodays. 

2.    Only five withdrawals– I don’t have the stats but this seems a lot less than prior years

3.    Nine of the field in within fifteendays – a record

4.    Six of the field in within thirteendays – also a record

5.    PB s for many of the front runners, including 

a.    Tweet

b.    Tattersall

c.    Horton

There has been some debate on WhatsApp today about how “tough” this year’s FC has been relative to prior years. Opinions are varied, but my reading of the debate was that it was no easier from any other year. What the race avoided in snow it gained in wind.

One rider that surely deserves a specific mention is Arno Crous. After hurting his back he fell way behind his Batch Eight buddies back in KZN and has put in a huge effort to finally catch them on the very last day to also record a sub thirteen day FC. Hugely commendable. Perhaps a future race winner?

Amongst the other finishers today were Brad’s Lads who completed their journey together in twenty days and change. The finest Batch One in the history of FC. I have it on good authority from the race organizer Chris that they have been promoted en masse to Batch Two next year. Well done. This is like a front row forward being moved to the flank, a big promotion. Incidentally there are rumours that exactly this move is being spoken about for Malcolm Marx for the Springboks. Makes you think doesn’t it.

There is something bothering me about the stats I have put out above. I’ve spoken about the field getting there quicker. They have, all of them. But I do wonder if in the haste to get to Diemersfontein some of the original ethos of the Freedom Challenge, may have been partially forgotten? Whilst the outstanding performances of Martin Dreyer and many others deserve all our praise, is there not room in the Freedom Challenge for those riders who are perhaps intrigued by a sub twenty day FC but are equally drawn to fully experiencing the unique opportunity of what lies around them as they ride? 

I think back to the foreword written in October 2012 by the founder of the Freedom Challenge, David Waddilove to Kevin Davie’s excellent book Freedom Rider. I quote from this as follows:

“We can engage with this country superficially or we can endeavor to understand some of its complex, at times painful, but often rich and rewarding history. In his journeys through the country, Kevin engages with the landscape of Elandslaagte and the various Anglo-Boer (or South African) War battle sites: he grapples with the genocide of the Bushmen; he quietly delights in unveiling the existence of the //Xegwi; his cry “I am the ganna” resonates through the account of his travels. In engaging with the country in the manner that he does, he gives truth to his statement to old man Dippenaar at the foot of the Normandien pass, ‘I am a South African’”

I wonder how many riders this year truly engaged with the complex fabric of the land and peoples of the country through which they rode. There is room in the Freedom Challenge for a slightly less hurried or perhaps a more curious passage – I’m not talking about a genteel tour here, the physical and mental challenge will always be part of it, the twenty six day limit is still a tough limit.  I guess I am just a little sad that there is nobody who has taken longer than twenty two days. Here is the test: how many riders went to visit the family graveyard at Moordernaarspoort, to see for themselves what seven or eight generations of a farming family looks like? To hear firsthand the fears of the current farmer as to whether his son will ever be the eighth generation to own that farm? This is but one example, the invitation to a conversation is present throughout the trail. 

Having said what I have said the choice is always a personal one and there is no “wrong” in setting oneself an extreme physical and mental challenge, like breaking ten days or a personal PB. Much of the excitement around this race pivots on these extraordinary achievements.  

All stations before Die Hel are now closed. 

On that note I close today’s report with our congratulations to the riders that have earned their blankets today. Very well done. 

 

#

Rider

Batch # (Days on the trail)

Current location

#Days +/(-) 26 day schedule

 

1

Fanus Vorster

1 (21)

Finishing today 20 days +

 

2

Nigel Basel

1 (21)

Finished today 20 days +

 

3

Bradford vd Westhizen

1 (21)

Finishing today 20 days +

 

4

Richard Erasmus

1 (21)

Finished today 20 days +

 

5

Derrick Muller

1 (21)

Finished today 20 days +

 

6

Johan Radcliffe

2 (20)

Finishing today 19 days +

 

7

Johann Lombard

2 (20)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

4.5

8

Sandy Maytham-Bailey

2 (20)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

4.5

9

Willem Kamstra

2 (20)

Trouthaven (SS#25)

5

10

Richard George du Toit

2

Finished 18 days +

 

11

Hanko de Beer

2 (20)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

4.5

12

Philip Erasmus

2 (20)

Finishing today 19 days +

 

13

James Cruikshank

3 (19)

Trouthaven (SS#25)

6

14

Bryn Roberts

3 (19)

Trouthaven (SS#25)

6

15

Bryn Roberts

3 (19)

Trouthaven (SS#25)

6

16

Radislav Zamandi

3 (19)

Trouthaven (SS#25)

6

17

Alex Kingwill

3 (19)

Montagu (SS#24)

5

18

Nigel Payne

Finished 15 days +

 

19

Adrian Payne

Finished 15 days +

 

20

Charles Hughes

4 (18)

Finished today 17 days +

 

21

Francis Bradford

4 (18)

Finished today 17 days +

 

22

Kobus Nel

4 (18)

Die Hel (SS#20)

2

23

Alan Rainnie

4 (18)

Die Hel (SS#20)

2

24

Francois Roux

4 (18)

Die Hel (SS#20)

2

25

Mark Smuts

4 (18)

Die Hel (SS#20)

2

26

Renier vd Merwe

5 (17)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

7.5

27

Gavin Robinson

Withdrawn

 

28

Andrew Ryan

5 (17)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

7.5

29

Gary Scoular

5 (17)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

7.5

30

Grant Cowan

5 (17)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

7.5

31

Mark Basel

5 (17)

Finished today 16 days +

 

32

Derrick Bingham

6

Withdrawn

 

33

Leon Kruger

6 (16)

Montagu (SS#24)

8

34

Grant Hill

6 (16)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

8.5

35

Anthony Avidon

7 (15)

McGregor (SS#24.5)

7.5

36

Kyle Dohne

7 (15)

Finished today 14 days +

 

37

Gawie du Plessis

7 (15)

Finishing today 14 days +

 

38

Scott James

7

Withdrawn

 

39

Liehann Loots

8

Withdrawn

 

40

Arno Crous

8 (13)

Finished today 12 days +

 

41

Fjord Jordaan

8 (13)

Finished today 12 days +

 

42

Graham Bird

8 (13)

Finished today 12 days +

 

43

Leon Erasmus

8 (13)

Finishing today 12 days +

 

44

Alex Harris

Withdrawn

 

45

Martin Dreyer

8 (13)

Winner 10 days 14 hours

 

46

Gavin Horton

8 (13)

Finished today 12 days + ?

 

47

Jacques Tattersall

8 (13)

Finished 11 days +

 

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