Seven riders from RTR Batch 1 left the city hall under slightly cloudy skies this morning - Tracey Lentin, Nigel Basel, Colin Ogilvie, Nick Taschner, Rob Verseput, Roger Nicholson and Andrew Walker were the first riders to hit the trail this year. The day played out as expected, with everyone stopping in for a mid-morning snack at The Oaks hotel before heading off to the Umkomaas Valley. Progress slowed a bit here but everyone was through and up the Hela Hela pass before dark. Nick arrived at Allendale by mid-afternoon, Roger, Rob and Andrew arrived before dark, with Colin arriving just after sunset. Tracey and Nigel were the last to arrive at 7pm after a long day out on the trail.
Countdown to RTR and RASA 2017
Less than a month from now, the first of this year’s Freedom Challenge riders will be lining up in Pietermaritzburg for the Race to Rhodes and soon after for the Race Across South Africa. As if on cue, the weather service is predicting the possibility of snowfalls for next week, signalling the arrival of winter 2017. Riders can look forward to an amazing adventure out on the trail but will need to be equipped and ready to deal with whatever Mother Nature may throw at them.
With riders still packing their race boxes and deciding on final kit selection, the clock is ticking and the excitement builds. The respective fields for this year include a mix of old and new with many first timers lining up in both events. This year also sees an increase in the number of international riders: Shane Little and Phillipa Crocker from the UK, Colin Ogilvie from Mauritius, Mark Leisher from the USA, Maarten Witters from Belgium and Jacques Tattersall from Namibia.
With the field now finalised and the batches released, we can also see a few well known names lining up - the 2012 duel between Martin Dreyer and Alex Harris looks set for a repeat - will we see a new outcome and what is the likelihood of a new course record being set? That story will play out as the race gets going and should be exciting to watch.
For many returning riders, the aim is a quicker finishing time and a hopefully smoother ride to the finish. But as they well know, the trail will have the final say and on the day, those who can adapt to the conditions, make good decisions and keep moving forward are the ones who will succeed. We wish all the riders well and look forward to the start of the action.
Live tracking and news on the RASA | RTR events
start May 25th, 2017