29 June - the evening wrap up

The field of RASA riders are still strung out along the trail, some moving swiftly forward every day and others at a slightly more sedate pace. Some are under a bit of pressure to get moving after having fallen behind schedule.

At the back of the field are still Nic van Zyl and Mike Devereux. They have been plagued by bike troubles again, this time it was Nic’s bike, with a broken derailleur hanger. A spare will be waiting in Prince Albert but they are still a long way from there. In the meantime he is riding a makeshift single speed to keep going. They started from Hadley this morning and got to Cambria by late afternoon - then they pushed on to Dam se Drif and are still going…

Now nearly two days ahead of them on the trail are Mike Glover and John Exley. After another strong ride from Willowmore, they find themselves in Prince Albert tonight.

A big group left Prince Albert early this morning, headed for Rouxpos: Andrew Blackburn, Nic Jordan, Mike Potgieter, Marnitz Nienaber and Ivor Jones all got there before dark. Mike Roy and John Bowen should arrive around midnight tonight - that would be a big double for them but keeps them on track for a 26 day finish.

Mike and Ingrid Talbot  enjoy another night with a support station to themselves, although in Montagu there could be other guests at the hotel. Another good day’s riding for them with a rare sighting of a Caracal near Anysberg as the highlight.

Good Hope finally has some riders staying over tonight - Johann Rissik, Ian Verwayen, Paul Dalton, Alan Haupt and Maarten Witters took an easy day from Montagu to get there, tomorrow they will take another easy day to Trouthaven and then rest up before Stettynskloof.

Bedding down at Trouthaven tonight is another big group - Lee Fuller, Dave Telford, Gary Preston, Liehann Loots, Beat Jegerlehner, Andrew Hunt  are all there after coming through from Montagu. Stu Brew is also there after recovering from his illness and so to is Theo van Dyk, who returned to the trail after his illness. Tomorrow they all head up Stettynskloof.

Today was a glorious day at Diemersfontein with clear, sunny skies and only a light breeze - perfect weather for Stettynskloof. And today the kloof saw plenty of action. Tim James entered the aloof yesterday afternoon and was expected to finish in the early hours of this morning but by late morning had still not come out of the dark zone. Andrew Barnes got to Trouthaven yesterday evening and looked like he would stay but it turns out he was only napping there and heeded off into the aloof at 10pm. He too had not emerged by late morning. Just as a search party was being despatched to Stettynskloof to investigate, a message came through from Tim. Andrew popped up soon afterwards and the gap was only 30min. With the clock ticking, Tim missed the final left turn to the Diemersfontein gate and it looked like Andrew might be able to catch him. A quick correction saw him back on track but the gap then was less than 10 min. Then Andrew made the same mistake and missed the left turn but he ended up in some vineyards and wasted even more time getting back on track. In the meantime Tim had crossed the line for a hard fought and well deserved win - his finishing time: 13d 7h 50min. Andrew crossed the line 30min later in what is surely the closest finish yet in RASA. His finishing time: 13d 8h 10min. They shook hands afterwards and traded stories from the last two weeks of racing.

The next arrival at Diemersfontein was Fjord Jordaan, who rode in on his own after having spent most of the day in the kloof with the other riders still to arrive. He has had an amazing ride for a rookie and his finishing time of 14d 11h 40min is really impressive and earned him the 3rd spot overall.

The later arrivals were Gary Green, Ant Jankovic-Bessan and Mike Ward, who rode in together just after dark. They had ridden together for most of the second half of the race and formed a tight knit unit, working well together. As first time finishers, they were all welcomed into the clan of Blanket Wearers and were proud to receive their blankets. Gary Green finished in 18d 12h 30min. Anthony Jankovic-Bessan finished in 19d 12h 30min and Mike Ward finished in 17d 12h 30min, all three breaking the sub 20 day mark, a great effort by all of them.