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The Race to Cradock 2016

The 2016 Race to Cradock comes to an end - it’s been quite a ride. With six start batches this year, the field was nearly double that of the inaugural 2015 event, Even though the event entries were opened to newcomers for the first time, the majority of riders had previous trail experience, being either Blanket Wearers and Whip or Windmill Bearers and proving that this section of the Freedom Trail holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the riders. It surely rates as one of the more diverse and beautiful sections of the trail and the hospitality of the hosts is legendary. 

At the sharp end of the field, the racing was closer this year, with Alex, Anthony, Fjord, Mike and Casper all mixing it up and pushing themselves to greater heights. The lead changed hands as their different strategies played out across successive days and nights on the trail, keeping the followers entertained throughout. The ‘sleep a bit’ strategy eventually prevailed over the ‘no-sleep’ strategy and the sleepmonsters paid all of them a visit at some point during their ride. In the end, a determined Alex successfully defended his title but the chasing pack were closer than ever before - the racing element is becoming more competitive and this bodes well for the future. 

The rest of the riders were a mix of first-timers and returnees, most content to take their time and savour every day out on the trail. Conditions often made the going tougher than expected, with frequent thunderstorms and strong headwinds being experienced by all at some point along the trail. The general consensus among riders at the finish was that the physical challenge remained as tough as ever as parts of the trail were a lot rougher than expected - damage from storms and floods had left some sections unrideable - and the weather remained a constant factor to be monitored throughout the day. For many who had only ever been on this section of the trail in winter, it was a surprise to see how green everything was, the rain having worked it’s magic on the previously drought stricken region. An abundance of wildlife also meant frequent sightings of game and more than one encounter with snakes along the way.    

The support stations are an integral part of the experience and this year was no different - the new addition, Newlands, proving to be one of the most popular of all. The hosts, Pierre-Martin and Azelia were a bit nervous before the event but in the end really enjoyed being part of it and meeting all the riders - now they can’t wait for the next time! The riders had only good things to say about them and really enjoyed their company and fine hospitality. 

Thank you to all the riders who took part and to all the hosts along the trail that make it such a special event - we look forward to see you back on the trail again.

Final standings:

Alex Harris 2d 01h09
Mike Woolnough 2d 05h35
Casper Venter 2d 05h44
Anthony Avidon 2d 06h34
Fjord Jordaan 2d 07h55
Janine Stewart 2d 13h20
Charles Mansfield 2d 20h35
Michael Potgieter 2d 21h35
Christopher Mortimer 2d 21h35
Jacques Tattersall 3d 10h15
Gavin Robinson 4d 04h45
Joyce Benade 4d 08h35
Dave vd Westhuizen 4d 08h35
Theo van Dyk 4d 08h35
Ann Harrison 4d 08h35
Grant Cowen  4d 08h35
Ben de Lange 4d 08h35
Trevor Maarschalk 4d 10h15
Edgar Kingwill 4d 10h15
Alex Kingwill 4d 10h15
Leon Kruger 4d 10h15
Andrew Hanger 4d 10h15
David Kruger 4d 10h15
Gary Stirk 4d 10h15
Brad vd Westhuizen 4d 10h15
Rory Field 4d 10h55
Colin Flatau 4d 10h55
Shaun Tischendorf 4d 10h55
Sergio Maraschin 4d 10h55
Fabio Maraschin 4d 10h55
Adohan van den Berg 4d 11h30
Russell Hanger 4d 11h30
Chris Harburn 4d 11h30
John Foord 4d 11h30
Fiona Coward 4d 12h40
Jac Saayman 4d 14h20
Aileen Kennaugh 4d 14h20
Chris Morris 5d06h45
Lindsey Morris 5d06h45
Lee Fuller 5d09h32
Bryn Roberts 5d09h32
Philip Kleijnhans DNF
Coen De Bruin DNF
Tim James DNF

 

Lee and Bryn are home

The last two riders are finally home - Lee and Bryn finally arrived in Cradock full of smiles and basking in the sunshine. They had their fair share of issues on this ride, with Lee’s smashed wheel and sore shoulder and Bryn’s sore knee but nothing could get them down or stop their steady progress every day. They finished in a time of 5d 9h 32min. 

 

The final day dawns

The final day of this year’s Race to Cradock dawned clear and sunny and only 3 riders now remain on course. Gavin slept at Rockdale last night and got away early at 3:30am this morning -  he is expected at the finish in Cradock by mid morning. Lee and Bryn left Newlands at 6:00am this morning and are well on their way to Rockdale - they should arrive at the finish just after lunch today. 

Gavin is home

Gavin arrived in Cradock in perfect, sunny weather. His decision to stop at Rockdale yesterday when the heavy rain started, proving to be a wise one. He started with Batch 5 in Rhodes and had an eventful ride, which included a night sleeping out on the Elandsberg portage. Overall he was quicker than last year too, so he is really pleased with his efforts. He finished in 4d 4h 45min.

 

Only three riders remain

As the rain comes down in Cradock, we still have three riders out on course - Gavin has taken shelter at Rockdale tonight, to recover from his sleep out on the Elandsberg portage. Just behind them are Lee and Bryn, staying at Newlands. Despite arriving early today, they opted to stay - both are nursing injuries so it was probably a good decision. They still have a bit of work to do in the morning, but should reach Cradock after lunch tomorrow.

 

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