Race Report 3 November 2022

Asterix and the Shackleton’s way


As a wee boy I loved the adventures penned by René Goscinny. The series follows the adventures of a village of Gauls as they resist Roman occupation in 50 BC. They do so using a magic potion, brewed by their druid Getafix, which temporarily gives the recipient superhuman strength. The protagonists, the title character, Asterix and his friend, Obelix, have various adventures.

In the Summer RASA (aka Asterix RASA) for 2022, the main charter is played by (dare I say, seasoned RASA and Freedom event junky) Michael John Woolnough: fitting character to play Asterix, as he does have the magic potion in his Support Station Boxes (aka Real Coca Cola).

As I write this, Asterix is making his way to the Village of the Gauls (aka Diemersfontein) after beating up the Romans at the battle of Lehanas, Slaapkranz, Skurfteberg, etcetera, etcetera, and then, Stettynskloof. Along the way he had to say “au revoir” to fellow Gauls that did not survive the trek and succumbed to the Roman dominance.


Our hero’s final battlefield is known as Stettynkloof (aka “censored”) which has been made famous for the mysterious disappearance of many soldiers over the past few years. The first being the Shackleton 1718 on 08 August 1963, taking 13 lives in the event. The remains of the Shackleton remain in the kloof as a stark reminder of the people that lost their lives.

The last real “track” in the kloof also stops at what has become known as Shackleton 2 (the second “koppie” on the way up the kloof). From this point on, many have lost their way and got stuck in the kloof.


The second interesting fact about the name Shackleton is how a certain Sir Ernest Shackleton who (unlike riders who get lost) steered his men across the South Georgia island to safety on 20 May 1916. He too had other plans, but got caught out by adverse weather and got stuck and trapped. But, like our heroes, made it to safety with determination, planning and some luck…


On the way to the Village of the Gauls:


Craig Bosenberg (RASA*) is joined by Simon Hall, John and Gill Graaf and Kim and Mike Ward (all RTP) for a well-earned rest before going into the Battlefield of Stettynskloof tomorrow morning.


Our famous tough RTP runners (Nicky Booyens, Peter Purchase, Andrew Weson and Dean Barclay) will surely rest in McGregor tonight. “Pette af!!!” They should be joined by RASA* riders Stefan Coetzee and Mark Preen, on their way from Rouxpos this morning.


The Payne brothers will enjoy the hospitality the Gamkasklowers can dish out. They will share a meal with Dave Templeton and Jacqueline Shaw. Ian Henderson is heading for the only 4-star accommodation on the RASA route in Prince Albert. No doubt that The Talbots will stop here tonight for a cuddle underneath percale linen. Heaven before heading to The Hell.


Guy Henderson and Janine Wencke, both rookies, have been very impressive all along the trail, with little to keep the dot watchers entertained: very impressive for “nat nuut” riders. Guy should be a great person to copy your homework from; his notes will be worth a lot. They will most probably stay over at the Willows in Willowmore.


Playing the role of Obelix in Asterix and the Schackleton’s Way is Tim James (another old hat at the Freedom Trail). He is joined by Murray James (who’s birthday it is today) playing the role of Dogmatix. Like in the story, these two would have had their moments of elation and disagreement as Obelix took Dogmatix on a journey of discovery and adventure. Tim and Murray are heading to the Willows as well.


The trail is running empty with Willowmore rolling up the trail tomorrow morning, leaving the only riders on the RTP section of the route. Don’t go anywhere, as Shackleton’s Way is waiting for the weary. Whether you are a purist Freedom Challenger, or you believe that Asterisk has an unfair magic potion (Sunshine and Daylight) brewed up by Getafix (aka The Race Director) is immaterial. To ride your bicycle across our beloved country is no mean feat. As a matter of fact, it’s not average at all… its unthinkable. No matter what the season, the Freedom Challenge will challenge. If you don’t believe me, speak to anyone that finishes the trail and gets to don a blanket. Of the 13 people that lost their lives in the fatal Shackleton crash, only one received a Medal of Valour.


Fortunately, every brave soul who rides their bicycle from Pietermaritzburg Hall to the door of Diemersfontein Restaurant earns their very own Medal of Valour: the much coveted Basotho Blanket.

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