Deconstructing the RASA cut offs

With a 26 day overall cut off time, RASA is a long event. While that may be stating the obvious, it also implies that there is a lot of time available for riders to complete the challenge but there's a catch, in order to be at the finish line in under 26 days, a rider needs to make steady progress along the trail every day.

To encourage riders to keep moving forward, there are interim cut offs that apply along the route. They are worked out according to the level of difficulty of the various sections of the trail and how factors like the weather may affect a rider’s progress along the trail. They are not intended to penalise riders, just to ensure that they do not fall too far behind and in so doing lose any chance of finishing.

The cut offs also ensure that support stations don’t have to stay open longer than necessary to accommodate a lone rider who has fallen off the back. Having riders arriving at all times of the day or night can be quite disruptive but less so if it all happens within a reasonable time period.


What happens when a rider misses the cut off?

The only absolute cut off is the 26 day finish at Diemersfontein – a rider has to get to Diemersfontein in 26 days or less to get the finisher’s blanket (no discretions and no exceptions)

If a rider misses an interim cut off, they would normally be expected to leave the trail but under certain circumstances they may still be allowed to continue:

- If they are the last rider on course and then miss a cut off, they are expected to leave the trail, since the support stations will not stay open for a rider after they miss a cut off.

- If a rider misses a cut off but there are still other riders behind them, then the support stations will still be open for the other rider’s sake, so they may continue. If they are overtaken and end up at the back, then they must leave the trail.

For RASA the following cut offs apply:

Rhodes - 8 days

Hofmeyr – 12/13days*

Willowmore – 19 days

Diemersfontein finish – 26 days

* the Hofmeyr cut off  is flexible and at the discretion of the race office – normally 12 days would be allowed. In the event of severe weather or a rider struggling but still making an effort, then 13 days may be allowed.

The clock starts in Pietermaritzburg at 6am on any particular RASA start day. So a day (24h) only ends at 6am on the next morning, not at midnight as most would assume. This gives riders a further chance of pushing through the night to make a cut off the next morning if necessary. To arrive in time or ‘beat’ a cut off, the rider needs to arrive before the end of the 8th/13th/19th/26th day at the designated support station – so by 6am on that day. If they manage to get there and still push on, then they are effectively ahead of that cut off.


2015 RASA riders currently flirting with cut offs are:

1. Pierre Oosthuizen: started in Batch B on Monday 8 June

-       got to Rhodes in 7d 12h 5min

-       got to Hofmeyr in 12d 14h 11min (discretionary 13 day)

-       needs to get to Willowmore by 6am on Saturday 27 June

-       needs to get to Diemersfontein by 6am on Saturday 4 July


2. Mike Roy and John Bowen: started in Batch A on Sunday 7 June

-       got to Rhodes in 7d 15h 0min

-       got to Hofmeyr in 12d 11h 15min (discretionary 13 day)

-       need to get to Willowmore by 6am on Friday 26 June

-       need to get to Diemersfontein by 6am on Friday 3 July


The cut offs are there to keep riders moving forward and to give every rider a chance to get a finisher’s blanket – riders who fall behind schedule for whatever reason, are expected to try and make up the lost time and get to the finish in 26 days or less.