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Race to Cradock 2015 wrap up

For some riders, the inaugural Race to Cradock was a race, an opportunity to test themselves against the clock. For others it was a chance to return to the trail, test their route knowledge and visit some old friends at the support stations.

No matter how they approached it, all were in agreement that this particular section of the Freedom Trail offered something special, a unique combination of open space and isolation in stark contrast to the warmth and hospitality of the support stations along the way. The terrain was also not to be underestimated with some riders commenting that they found this section tougher than the Race to Rhodes.

True to form, the weather also came into play - although the earlier batches got away in good weather and managed to stay ahead of the worst of the rain and mud that slowed the later batches. They did however have to contend with hot temperatures and thundershowers, so it wasn’t plain sailing all the way.

At the sharp end, Alex Harris established the benchmark for the first event at just under 48h, a great effort in the prevailing conditions. He was pursued by Mike Woolnough and Casper Venter but their chase was abandoned when they were forced to sleep out on the Elandsberg portage after getting lost in a storm. That allowed Tim James to make up some of the time he lost earlier due to illness. In the end the gap separating them was just over 2h and all the racers finished in under 3 days.

Carl Scholtz and Coen de Bruin teamed up and had a really good ride – they managed to get over the Bontehoek portages on the first day and slept at Moordenaarspoort, the emergency stop. They continued in similar fashion, eventually catching up to the first batch of riders at Romansfontein. From there it was a big push to Stuttgart, from where they finished comfortably the next morning in under 3 and a half days.

The rest of the riders had stated clearly that they had no intentions of racing and wanted to enjoy themselves on the trail. That’s precisely what they did, riding comfortably each day and always arriving before dark, to maximize their stopover time with the friendly support station hosts. Most of them rode a single stage per day until they reached Elandsberg – from there it was a comfortable ‘double’ through Stuttgart to reach the finish in Cradock by late afternoon, ensuring a sub 5 day finish.

There were a few casualties during the race, Robbie McIntosh was an early withdrawal at Chesneywold due to chest problems. Anthony Avidon was going along nicely but was plagued by persistent tyre problems, which eventually led to his withdrawal on the way to Romansfontein. Jonathan Peers took ill and was battling to stay with his group on the second day – after getting a lift to Brosterlea and spending a day there resting, he rode back the following morning to rejoin the route at his pick-up point. He then joined the next batch coming through and held on to get to Cradock before the 6-day cutoff.

Fast or slow, race or ride, there are many ways to get to Cradock. For the riders, this event proved to be a whole heap of fun and a reminder of what the Freedom Challenge is all about. For the support stations, it was a chance to reconnect with old friends, meet a few new ones and treat them to the legendary hospitality of the Stormberg region. For the organisers, the Race to Cradock topped all expectations and is sure to become a permanent fixture on the Freedom Challenge calendar.

Race to Cradock 2015 Final Results

Another day ends in Cradock

After the early arrival of Alex this morning, the rest of the day passed quietly until the early evening when Batch B and Jonathan arrived in town. Leon, Craig, Fiona, Stewart, Annie and Jonathan arrived as a group just after 6pm after a hard final day which included rain and mechanicals but nothing that could stop them from completing their journey in 4days 13hours 15minutes (with Jonathan taking a day longer due to him starting in Batch A ahead of them).

Just as the group were finishing supper, Mike and Casper arrived sporting their now permanent grins. They were dead tired and still damp from a recent shower but in good spirits and glad to be home. With the previous night’s drenching and subsequent camp out on the Elandsberg still fresh in their minds, they regaled the assembled party with their tales of daring and misfortune while scoffed on babotie and drank tea. Their arrival at 20h35 gave them a finishing time of 2days 15hours 35minutes (63h35min) – a fine effort, gentlemen.

They stuck around to welcome Tim home, who arrived at 22h40, in a time of 2days 17hours 40minutes (65h40min). He was visibly tired and didn’t have much of an appetite – something which started on the first day and made his ride a particularly

Batch C are home

Theo, Colin, Gavin and Henry rolled in to Cradock this afternoon in glorious sunshine. Although they were tired after some difficult riding conditions over the last four days, they were all still smiling - their finishing time: 4days 10hours 5minutes

More riders on the way to the finish

After severe storms last night in the Cradock area, the remaining riders are trying to make their way to the finish as quickly as possible.

The first arrival this morning was Alex at 04h35 – his time establishes the benchmark at 47h35min for the inaugural event and sets the bar high for future contenders. Between bouts of sunshine and tailwinds, he also had to deal with heavy rain and mud but his determination won through and he managed to sneak in under 48 hours.

His closest pursuers, Mike and Casper were hot on his tail last night but came unstuck on the Elandsberg portage in a heavy storm which forced them to look for shelter and they ended up spending a wet, miserable night out in the Karoo scrubland. They bounced back this morning after a hearty breakfast at the Elandsberg support station and are currently making good time on their way to Stuttgart, after which they’ll be heading home to the finish in Cradock tonight.

Not far behind them is Tim, who had a long hard night on the trail between Romansfontein and Hofmeyr. He’s still battling with nausea and vomiting but keeps soldiering on, determined to also reach the finish sometime tonight. Having left Elandsberg already, he’s now on his way to Stuttgart.

Further back we have Batch C riders Theo, Colin, Gavin and Henry, who left Romansfontein this morning and are hoping to get to Hofmeyr for lunch before pushing on to Elandsberg for tonight.

The next arrivals expected in Cradock are the riders of Batch B – Fiona, Leon, Craig, Annie and Stewart, together with Jonathan from Batch A. They are currently making their way up the Schufteberg portage and should make it to Cradock by mid afternoon.

Waiting for the last riders in Cradock

Wednesday in Cradock dawned sunny and clear with the rain seemingly a thing of the past. The lucky riders who get to enjoy the great conditions on the last day are Theo, Colin, Gavin and Henry, who all started in Batch C in Rhodes on Saturday the 21st. They are expected to get to the finish in time for lunch to today.

Monday wrap up

A day of weather, both good and bad. With heavy overnight rains around Molteno, the racers have had to find an extra gear to keep going. Alex left Brosterlea at 02h30 and is still on the go – today he’s been through Romansfontein, Hofmeyr and Elandsberg and is currently on his way to Stuttgart – he’ll most likely have a short break there before continuing to the finish in Cradock, so he’s expected to arrive in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Mike and Casper are a few hours behind him, having left Brosterlea at 05h30 this morning. They have just passed through Hofmeyr en route to Elandsberg for a quick nap before conituing to Stuttgart for breakfast and then home to Cradock.

Behind them is Tim, who has been ill – he was forced to take a short sleep at Romansfontein before continuing and is still on his way to Hofmeyr.

Staying at Romansfontein tonight are Theo, Colin, Gavin and Henry, who rode through from Kranskop today.

Closer to the finish are most of Batch B, Fiona, Leon, Craig, Annie and Stewart, who are all at Elandsberg tonight. With them is Jonathan (Batch A). They are expected to finish in Cradock tomorrow afternoon.

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