Events

Freedom Challenge Commentary

dirtypot's Photo dirtypot 06 Jul 2019

I saw Jacques and Richard on the road at the end of Stettyns. Gave a toot as I drove past. The weather was truly miserable, cold and raining with cloud all around.

Marnitz Nienaber's Photo Marnitz Nienaber 10 Jul 2019

Been waiting for Marnitz to start a new thread, but excitement has gotten the better of me. Excitement fuelled by who's racing this year, besides the event being full, the race talent is the best there is for this type of event, all the manne are present, (except Mike W and Bruce H), its going to be Epic.

 

 

Once again it has been another magic life changing year, fortunately for me I find myself now in the middle of the country and right in the middle of the RASA. 

 

Thanks Carl for starting the topic, I think myself and Tim is getting older and hopefully wiser, might be the reason why we weren't racing, or possibly unfit and scared of the racing snakes.

 

I have been speaking to a lot of the newly and old blanket wearers about the soul purpose of this unique race, why are we competing or what is it that we want out of this race and I would like to have some comments from the dot watchers perspective as well as the blanket wearers.

 

Watching everyone finish brings a smile and tears at the same time and a lot of fomo, I had a look at a lot of pictures taken during my years and basically 3 years stood out :

 

  • My first year doing most of it on my own and getting to grips with the real Freedom Challenge and it's emotions
  • The year doing it with Ivor Jones, didn't enjoy it at the time but watching the pictures we had a ball of a time while doing some crazy stuff.
  • My last year ( Hopefully not my last year ) due to my gentle soft marsmellow texture, I couldn't race but instead I saw a lot of places previously unseen. 

 

Since turning into a gentle soft marsmellow not being able to dice, I would like to share knowledge about the race and if you give me enough time I might also be available as a guide on the shorter races and if I'm lucky enough to get a sponsor I might be racing Tim Bivvy style next year.

 

You are more than welcome to contact me on email marnitzn@ovk.co.za or 0837619606 I will gladly try to assist with advice needed, it might not always be the best advice, like for instance going up the waterfall in Stetteyns but it will be helpfull.......

 

:devil:  :devil:  :devil:

The Crazy German's Photo The Crazy German 10 Jul 2019

 I will gladly try to assist with advice needed, it might not always be the best advice, like for instance going up the waterfall in Stetteyns but it will be helpfull.......

 

:devil:  :devil:  :devil:

 

I thought of you and that one recently whilst climbing a mountain in Corsica. Saw a nice waterfall going from 1400m till 2100m and told a guy about you and Ivor taking a bike up such stuff. His response it should be doable on foot there is some tracks on the bottom part and I have climbed the top part before.

 

So I hiked up the normal way and came down the waterfall including a lake/pool swim. No leopard though just some dead mountain goat bones. Brought back some lovely Freedom memories, didn't take a bike though i was dead scary already on foot.

tubed's Photo tubed 10 Jul 2019

Hi Marnitz and Maarten

 

thanks for your contributions, they are always valued

 

its been a fascinating year of FC, good to see that you are both well and still enthused by this wonderful event,

 

for me its been a different year, it was always going to be, because much has and had to change, I am not one to simply dwell on the past, but rather to celebrate it for what it was and look forward to the new

 

a big hole was left with the passing of Johann and the exit of Meryl and Glenn - like I said at the start, Chris and Julia had huge boots to fill and I think they have done a wonderful job and put in a massive effort - I'm very grateful for their stewardship of the event - one cannot take for granted that event such as this can just survive on its own - no matter how much we will it - it needs dedicated people to drive it and Chris and Julia have done just that - much strength and gratitude to them

 

with a new team driving the event come the necessary changes and by virtue of the comments at the end of the live FB coverage, the gratitude of the racers should be the endorsement they need to know they are on the right track - they will make their own adjustments for 2020

 

whatever they do for 2020 - the actual event will dish up its own form of drama for us - just looking at the 'haarde baarde' we spoke of at the start when the race group and other fast groups were announced - those same hard men were reduced to beaten men at Diemersfontein - anybody getting windgat about what this event can do should just take a look at the last 30seconds of Graham Bird's interview - this is not a man who is unused to suffering - that spoke volumes to me about what the guys put themselves through. The pic of Jacques T sitting at the top of Swartberg Pass is another portrait of a winner being reduced to a survivor at that point, I haven't mentioned Martin's efforts - yes it was a huge and admirable effort - but so too those who chased him and paid a heavy price - I could mention each of those men and their ordeals, I am sure they have many stories to tell

 

which brings me to another topic - I think the new writers did a great job this year - they seemed to kick in just when the photographers (who were outstanding), but probably had to go home and earn some money - all around a massive step forward for the event which lends itself to rich imagery and rich prose from the writers - well done to all involved

 

in my view, this forum has been much 'thinner' this year, with far less people contributing - again, I think perhaps its just a shift and I surmise that the main reason for this is the move to Whatsapp groups - I understand that there is a main FC group and various others where most of the live info and opinions are now shared - in the past it was twitter and here - the times have moved on and either you do Whatsapp or not

 

Ok thats me for 2019, I dont need to wish the last guys a good journey home - its quite clear that they are doing just that - and perhaps like Marnitz expressed - there are just as many ways to enjoy the trail as there may be with the fascination of a sub10 day finish - kudos to the guys still out there - 'livin large fellas, take it all in'

 

  

NC_lurker's Photo NC_lurker 10 Jul 2019

in my view, this forum has been much 'thinner' this year, with far less people contributing - again, I think perhaps its just a shift and I surmise that the main reason for this is the move to Whatsapp groups - I understand that there is a main FC group and various others where most of the live info and opinions are now shared - in the past it was twitter and here - the times have moved on and either you do Whatsapp or not


Thanks for those that posted contributions on this thread, very enjoyable reading comments based on first hand knowledge/experience.

As an armchair supporter with no direct links to anyone riding I found it quite difficult at times to find updated info. The official race twitter feed seemed intermittent which left my main source of info to be the well written daily reports. However that wasn't really enough..

Now hearing that more regular info was being shared via WhatsApp groups explains things I guess. However how was one meant to become part of the groups? If the organisers are keen to expose the event to a broader audience then perhaps they should look at channels more public than WhatsApp.

Marnitz Nienaber's Photo Marnitz Nienaber 11 Jul 2019

Now hearing that more regular info was being shared via WhatsApp groups explains things I guess. However how was one meant to become part of the groups? If the organisers are keen to expose the event to a broader audience then perhaps they should look at channels more public than WhatsApp.

 

I have been part of one off the wattsup groups, the current group with it's members will merge into other events during the year, Mike Woolnough is the administrator of this group, he is also part of this topic and if you want to be part of the wattsup group please send Mike a personal message with your phone number.

 

I must say that on one stage we were more than 300 on the group and if you don't have limitless data you are going to be out of data very soon with all the pictures, comments and video posted. The magic of the wattsup group is that it's live 24/7 there are allways dot watchers at all times of the day, which means that one is receiving updates at all times, it also means that you will never be able to sleep or work, which is nice.

 

I have posted this like on the wattsup group, it is also available on the Freedom Challenge main page.

 

The nice thing about this topic is that we can share advice for any blanket aspirations, we have used it with great success in the past and I think that should be the main aim of this page, assisting others in succeeding in their blanket dreams and preparing for the next Freedom Challenge event.

 

:clap:  :clap:  :clap:  

TrailWarrior's Photo TrailWarrior 11 Jul 2019

 

Hi Marnitz and Maarten

 

thanks for your contributions, they are always valued....

 

....- those same hard men were reduced to beaten men at Diemersfontein - anybody getting windgat about what this event can do should just take a look at the last 30seconds of Graham Bird's interview - this is not a man who is unused to suffering - that spoke volumes to me about what the guys put themselves through. The pic of Jacques T sitting at the top of Swartberg Pass is another portrait of a winner being reduced to a survivor ....

 

Well said Tubed. Yes! I noted that last 30 seconds of Tweet's interview on the first view, showed my wife with a lump in my throat. That's Freedom RASA right there! It's that hard but the experience is a powerful thing!

 

I also thought I was missing something and coming back to this feed for feedback during RASA, it had seemed to have thinned in comparison with previous years. Yes. Change is inevitable and its happening all the time. I heard of the Whatsup group but assumed it was a personal thing set up but now I know for next time.

 

I think Chris and Julia did an awesome job for 2019 off the back of the changes mentioned and changing of the guards. Looking forward to what lies ahead for this event and the Freedom Challenge family.  ;)

BikeHub Plus's Photo BikeHub Plus 11 Jul 2019

thanks Charl, there was a time when the event was almost entirely in Lehana's (the founder) head. The fact that we have now had himself, Glenn, Johann and Chris directing traffic through the years with aplomb shows me it has legs on its own (with a healthy dose of dedication)

 

How to cover this amazing event?!

In the begining (well for me at least), about 2007. I was on the warthogs MTB mailing list.

With fellow 'Hogs Maarten van Dalsen (eventual winner) and Steve Thomas (the original stone saddlers stone saddleman). So there was lots of traffic there! I became a total addict from that stage and entered right about then!

 

Here is my (not exhaustive) list of how following this race/dotwatching has changed over the years.

 

this is the first thing i can find about it, a message on the ADVRACESA yahoo group mailing list from Kevin Dold - Feb 11 2004:

http://www.crosskaro...at8.php?catID=9

I thought this was a joke at first. But went to the website to make sure.
After checking the sponsors, I guess it is real. Do people actually do
things like this?????? (I feel so weak)


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

 

 

This is before it was even called the Freedom Challenge, and you will see that that url no longer works. using the magic sorcery we can go here - http://web.archive.o...crosskaroo.com/

here you will see that as crazy as the Barkley Marathon and Munga Trail run sound, they are really childs play - there are some working links to routes and daily reports there - MADNESS i tell you, this has never been repeated!

 

Moving back to the actual Freedom Challenge Extreme triathlon, we are still web 1.0 in 2004.

There would have been reports on ar.co.za by AdventureLisa, available here

Check out this one, yes the first time Stettyns reared it's ugly head

 

FC stettyns 2004.png

 

I think we would have had tracking from about 2006/7. it was originally on the SPORTSTRACK system. they were groundbreaking at the time, but super patchy (GSM uplink, no satellite like SPOT). the interface was horrible, and when the winner came close to the end, HYPE would generate outside of the inner circle and the whole damn thing would crash with the increased traffic.

elandsberg.jpg

 

 

staying with email groups, it was still that way in 2007 but then emerged web 2.0 finally.

even though this here Hub was online by then, the actual freedomchallenge itself had it's own forum section. This was where HARDCORE fundis would hang out. It was a real small chatgroup, with probably 3 threads for the race. What was really cool was that it was only FC related. and all archived. the rest of the year would be for prep/training/racing advice/gear, and all of it was then available for all to see. You don't get that anymore, and i think this forum and posts within has been lost for good. The most famous thread was probably where Stijn predicted that it could be possible to do the FC in 12 days (or was it 14). okes thought he was total mad bonkers, but he's smiling now!

 

Twitter became the platform of choice from about 2012 @Freedom_Trail was registered may 2008. Race office would tweet everything that came through, in/out times sms updates from riders etc.

 

in between,the FC  facebook page  and this here bikehub became a home for the discussion topics.

 

This year it seems the whatsapp group was the go to place, and I agree that while it has obvious advantages in usability and it probably is a bit exclusive. I'm guessing the best is for someone on these groups to duplicate the interesting stuff!

 

 

 

 

Slowbee's Photo Slowbee 11 Jul 2019

*SNIP*

What is also missing is more people who have done this giving talks. (And if they do, they should be better advertised).

 

It is one thing reading about it on TheBikeHUb, or a blog or a publication, as opposed to seeing photos and hearing someone speak about it. You get to ask questions, you get to interact with someone who has done it.

 

And yes it was a talk all that long ago that started the journey into long distance riding. Munga, RASA, RAAM, PbP all fit up there because of one talk.

tubed's Photo tubed 11 Jul 2019

"This year it seems the whatsapp group was the go to place, and I agree that while it has obvious advantages in usability and it probably is a bit exclusive. I'm guessing the best is for someone on these groups to duplicate the interesting stuff!" and "I became a total addict from that stage"

 

Can't think of anyone better to do this role than you. I look forward to the insights in 2020. 

 

Over and out from me.

Freedom_Challenge's Photo Freedom_Challenge 11 Jul 2019

Hi Guys, 

 

Thanks everyone for your contributions this year. Thanks for the positive feedback Charl and others. 

 

As far as news/coverage goes... its just seems spread over too many platforms. We had people telling us they couldn't believe how much easier it was to follow and how much more info there was this year and then other people (ie. on this platform) saying info seemed harder to come by.

 

We would really just like to get everyone to the same place to run commentary and updates on the race. This year we actually tried to get a forum built into the Freedom Website but were strongly advised against it in the end for site security reasons. 

 

There is no doubt that the main platform has been twitter over the past few years. We will still continue to use twitter for important announcements and updates but don't want to oversaturate our twitter feed with too much stuff that is not of public interest. The past 2 years has seen a big shift toward facebook (and instagram) as they lend themselves to more visual coverage too. 

 

This year was definitely the year of WhatsApp (for those in the know). The main group was massive and non-stop! Look away from your phone for a couple hours and you would have 200 msgs waiting.  As race director, I actually opted to leave the group as there was just too much discussion/distraction. The group was not exclusive as anyone could add people but it still meant you had to know about it to get into it. 

 

In future years we would like to bring everyone to one central meeting place to run commentary, share stories, updates and follow Freedom Challenge TOGETHER. 

 

We will do a bit more research into the best platform but at this stage i think a Facebook Group is going to be best. For those adventure racing dot-watchers you will know how well the "Expedition Africa Lovers" facebook  group works. it creates an online platform where everyone can contribute, add pictures, videos, link pictures etc. 

 

The average Freedom Rider is 51 years old and in years gone by Facebook has been more for the younger generation but this year there is no doubt that that has been the most reliable and readily available source of info. The freedom challenge facebook page has had an average of 70 000 posts viewed per week, 80% of which are creating engagement and interaction with viewers. (info available to us from Facebook) so this seems to be the best avenue for Freedom Challenge in future. Facebook definitely has a much older subscriber base than 10 years ago so it seems to be the correct fit for this generation of Freedom's followers. 

 

So if you are not on Facebook then best change that before 2020 Freedom challenge. 

 

That said, best place to spectate is from the saddle so hope lots of you will be signing up to ride the trail next year. 

 

until then, ciao, 

Chris

 

 

RocknRolla's Photo RocknRolla 12 Jul 2019

From a non-participant (still have a couple of years before the median age) I really enjoy the tidbits we receive here on Bikehub. I choose when and how much of the info I consume, which is kinda ho I like it.

 

This is the age of information, and with it, much of the mystery of the world is lost.

I remember doing Sani a couple of years ago, followed them on the twitter, where glen would post photos of the new section of trails (last day). This was exciting too see beforehand, however, took away all of the mystery on the last day. 

 

Now I know, no amount of pictures or master wordsmithery ( I can like to make my own words) will ever be able to translate the actual experience of the Challenge, but I think the nature of doing the event lends itself to exploring different options and through this, experience for the next year.

 

My humble opinion. I do understand there are people living vicariously through the commentary, info and experience of participants, so the need for information is greater than I will understand probably.

BikeHub Plus's Photo BikeHub Plus 12 Jul 2019

"This year it seems the whatsapp group was the go to place, and I agree that while it has obvious advantages in usability and it probably is a bit exclusive. I'm guessing the best is for someone on these groups to duplicate the interesting stuff!" and "I became a total addict from that stage"

 

Can't think of anyone better to do this role than you. I look forward to the insights in 2020. 

 

Over and out from me.

 

 

That said, best place to spectate is from the saddle so hope lots of you will be signing up to ride the trail next year. 

 

 

It's an either or case for me!

BikeHub Plus's Photo BikeHub Plus 12 Jul 2019

I forgot one other media format...YOUTUBE

Chris did unbelievable daily stuff last year on his own channel

 

 

This year he was wearing a few more hats, but still managed to get some decent content out on a daily basis. PLEASE go subscribe(on both channels), you will not be disappointed.

BikeHub Plus's Photo BikeHub Plus 26 Sep 2019

  rasatimes19ALL.png

 

leaderboard been updated.

 

here is the XY plot of finishers time in days vs year

 

anything sub12 is RARE event

dave303e's Photo dave303e 26 Sep 2019

shouldn't you be giving us commentary on another event?