2008 Freedom Challenge – Pietermaritzburg to Paarl

Fitness enthusiasts who like to push their bodies to the limit are gearing up for South Africa’s 2008 Freedom Challenge. Participants have three different events to choose from, allowing each individual to decide just where their own personal limit is.

The Freedom Challenge “Race across South Africa” is a 2,300 kilometer mountain bike race along South Africa’s Freedom Trail, starting in Pietermaritzburg and ending in Paarl, outside Cape Town, with a twenty-six day cut off. Participants will leave in groups of twenty each consecutive day, with the first batch starting on 16 June 2008. The Freedom Trail was established as part of South Africa’s “Ten Years of Freedom” celebrations in 2004. It is a mountain bike trail consisting of varied terrain along dirt roads, dirt tracks and cattle tracks over a distance of 2,300 kilometers, which is designed to be ridden unsupported. Apart from being used in the Freedom Challenge Race, the Freedom Trail can be ridden throughout the year, either in its entirety or in sections.

The Freedom Trail takes cyclists through some of South Africa’s most breath-taking scenery as it climbs up and over the escarpment of the Drakensberg Mountain Range, traveling along the plateau before descending into the Great Karoo. It then ascends over the Swaershoek range before dropping into the Camdeboo Plains. After heading through the Baviaanskloof Mountains and alongside the Swartberg, the trail crosses the Little Karoo and Breede River Valley before finally traveling over the Du Toits Kloof mountains, with Paarl as its destination. The trail crosses a number of South Africa’s conservation areas, including the Maluti Drakensberg Transfrontier area, Mountain Zebra and Addo Elephant National Parks and the Baviaanskloof wilderness, as well as the Ntsikeni, Malekhalonyane, Swartberg, Gamkasberg, Anysberg, Vrojilikheid and Limietberg nature reserves.

For multi-sport devotees, the Extreme Triatholon offers running, mountain biking and canoeing. The running leg of the triatholon starts off with the 88 kilometer Comrades Marathon from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, followed by the Freedom Challenge Trail Race from Pietermaritzburg to Paarl, arriving in time to paddle the four day 240 kilometer Berg River Canoe Marathon from 9 to 12 July. The third option available as part of the 2008 Freedom Challenge is the six day supported and staged 550 kilometer mountain bike race along the Freedom Trail from Pietermaritzburg to Rhodes.

South Africa’s 2008 Freedom Challenge promises to be a challenge indeed – are you up to it?