Epworth girls take the long, scenic route back from Argus

2010-04-14 00:00

TWENTY-SEVEN days and 2 154 km later, and the 15 Epworth High School girls who cycled from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg have finally arrived home.

The girls, who flew to Cape Town to cycle the Argus cycle tour, altered the Epworth tradition of cycling the distance to the race and instead did the long, scenic route back this year.

This tradition started in 1998 when the school had its centenary.

“It was so successful that the school decided to make it an event that takes place every three years,” said Anne Fincham, head of marketing at Epworth.

Fincham said that anyone at the school who is interested can enrol to do the cycle challenge, “but when the training begins the numbers dwindle and a core group of determined and committed girls remain”.

Heather Bell, a teacher at the school, accompanied the Grade 10, 11 and matric girls along with Les Willows, the school’s sports teacher. Bell, who completed the first cycle challenge as a student in 1998, said that this year was “phenomenal”.

“It was a beautiful experience, completely character-building and a great opportunity for the girls to see our beautiful country.” However, there were also difficult moments.

“The hills were tough and it was hard being away from my family,” said Claire Mapstone, a grade 11 pupil who completed the challenge.

Willows said another challenge was the rain. “We were soaked between East London and Queenstown, but the girls were amazing. They cycled for about seven to eight hours, which is an average of about 100 km a day.”

The girls arrived back at Epworth at 1 pm yesterday and were welcomed by their Grade 10, 11 and matric peers who lined the road, screaming and cheering as the slightly flustered and extremely tanned cyclists rode in.

The front runners, Tracey Mapstone and Hazel Little, were kitted out in fluffy pink bunny ears. “You have to wear them if you do something stupid the day before, but we are wearing them today because we started the tradition,” said Little.

The girls were welcomed by the entire school and Principal Liz Klug, Willows and the girls all gave speeches.

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