Ingrid Avidon, Freedom Rider and Freedom Writer, doesn’t really need an introduction. Her track record as one of the leading women endurance cyclists over many years and her hilarious articles speak for themselves.
Ingrid has an idea. A big one. If successful, her big idea could provide inspiration and hope for “ordinary” men and women to push themselves beyond what they thought possible. She aims to inspire by completing, in a twelve month period through 2022, a combination of most, if not all, of South Africa’s most challenging sports endurance events.
Briefly, these events are as follows:
January 2022: Everest Challenge (walking/running a total ascent that matches the height of Everest in as quick a time as possible). The intention is to use the Westcliffe Steps in Johannesburg to cumulatively climb 8880m. Given that the altitude gain on Westcliffe is 60m she will have to go up and down the steps 148 times, almost 60km in distance as the distance is around 400m for each leg. No South African women has managed the Everest Challenge on foot to date. Further details are here:
Note that, given the layout of the Westcliffe steps, Ingrid will have to walk/run (the rules allow for assistance) the downhill leg as well as (obviously) the uphill leg. This makes it a very difficult challenge. Nobody enjoys a down Comrades.
February/March 2022: Dusi Canoe Marathon (120km over three days, probably in a double)
March 2022: PE Ironman (3.8km swim, 180km cycle, 42,2km run) (swim, bike, run)
June 2022: Comrades Marathon (90km) (road running) (down Comrades)
June 2022: Freedom Challenge Race Across South Africa (RASA) (2100km) (extreme mountain biking)
July 2022: Berg River Canoe Marathon (240km over four days) (canoeing, has to be in a single)
July-Nov 2022, actual date conditions dependent: Robben Island swim: (7-11km, depending on the route)
October 2022: Indoor rower 100km (rowing)
Roughly similar in effort to running Comrades, should take around 10 hours to complete
December 2022: Port Elizabeth to East London Surf ski Marathon (250km over four days, probably in a double)
Out of interest the Comrades/RASA/Berg events are regarded as a triathlon in their own right, being run consecutively. This event is known as the XTC Freedom Challenge. To date 15 people have managed to finish this extreme (to put it mildly) triathlon over the 18 years RASA has been held.
In doing all of this Ingrid will probably also have completed the Two Oceans Marathon and many other shorter events which will serve as training for the marque events above.
In decades past there have been a number of multi event initiatives that various South Africans aimed for. The oldest is probably the Natal Ironman, which took into account the combined results for the Midmar Mile swimming event, the Dusi Canoe Marathon and the Comrades Marathon. Around the turn of the century the vogue was the Big Five, the above three events plus climbing Kilimanjaro and doing the PE Iron Man. Ingrid’s ambition takes this to another level.
Out of interest Ingrid has, over the years, successfully completed Comrades, PE Iron Man and RASA, on top of having represented South Africa at U21 level in hockey. The disciplines that will be new to her are canoeing, rowing, ultra long distance swimming and effectively mountain climbing (although there isn’t actually any technical climbing involved. It is hard enough as it is). Managing to complete the Berg River Canoe Marathon in less than a year from scratch is a big ask in its own right. Some would even say inadvisable, but all this is part of Ingrid’s journey.
As many are aware Ingrid will be publishing her book “Never Eat Silk Worms” in the next few months. This book is fact wrapped in fiction and speaks eloquently and humorously to the general themes of endurance and pushing personal boundaries.
There is clearly opportunity here to rally around Ingrid and help leverage what she is doing for the benefit of many. She hopes to inspire ordinary people, particularly women, to push their personal boundaries, people from both advantaged and disadvantaged communities. Her ambitions do not stop at the end of 2022. She hopes to be an inspiration for many years to come and we are proud to have her as part of our Freedom Challenge family.
Ingrid has an embryonic blog about to be up and running. From here on she will be telling her own story. Like how far she is in learning how to canoe. The journey has already started.