Local lads win Dusi Trail Marathon

2009-06-13 00:00

ERIC Zondi (20) and Thomas Ngidi (23) are names becoming synonymous with sporting success. As Change-a-Life athletes these two young men proved their paddling prowess by completing the Dusi Canoe Race earlier this year coming in 9th and 15th respectively. The duo teamed up yesterday to win the Dusi Trail Marathon, which makes up the first stage of the Freedom Challenge Extreme Triathlon.

Thomas and Eric are keen to add cycling to their sporting CV and are looking forward to jumping on mountain bikes for the Freedom Challenge 2010.

The annual, extreme mountain biking race, the Freedom Challenge, starts today from Pietermaritzburg.

Five of the 60 cyclists will already be taking strain, as they ran the marathon as the first part of their triathlon.

At around 86 km the Dusi Trail Marathon is the same distance as the Comrades but unlike the Comrades, takes runners along cattle-tracks and dirt roads.

The Dusi Trail Run, to be held annually in June as of 2009, forms part of a local initiative being conducted by the Freedom Challenge in partnership with the Dusi Umgeni Conservation Trust (DUCT) to develop a locally managed adventure trail running through the valleys of the Umgeni and Umsundusi Rivers open to people throughout the year.

Talking about the project, DUCT manager Andrew Booth said, “We are very excited about the initiative. We are looking to set up local community mountain bike guides as well as locally serviced overnight stops in the valley. In this way we hope to encourage adventure-tourism activities in the valley that can provide employment throughout the year.”

With the first part of the Extreme Triathlon done, the 5 runners will join their fellow “Race Across South Africa” cyclists this morning outside the PMB City Hall and hit the Freedom Trail for a rugged 2 300 km pedal to Paarl.

To qualify for their Basotho blanket, cyclists must complete the Race Across South Africa in 26 days. The Extreme Triathlon competitors only have 20 days to make it to Paarl in time to paddle the 2 day, 240 km One Stop Berg canoe race which starts on July 4.

All eyes will be on Tim James this year. A Race Across South Africa fundi, Tim broke the record last year completing the race in 14 and a half days — this year he hopes to make it 12.

For those cyclists not ready for the Race Across South Africa let alone the Extreme Triathlon, the Freedom Challenge also offers the Ride to Rhodes which follows the Freedom Trail along with the others but ends in Rhodes , a more sedate distance of 550 km. Unlike the Race Across South Africa, the Ride to Rhodes is supported.

“It’s an exciting time for all of us,” says David Waddilove, founder and director of the Freedom Challenge. “The communities along the Freedom Trail are ready with food and shelter for the cyclists which provides the locals with a real boost of much-needed income. The cyclists are using their last few days of “normal life” to ready themselves for the massive physical and mental test they’re about to embark on. It’s a wild adventure — not for the faint-hearted but wow, once you’ve done it you’ll never be the same again – and that’s a good thing.”

For more info visit www.freedomchallenge.org.za

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