Ka­roo to Co­ast tri­umph for lo­cal pair

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Sport - S­te­fan Goo­sen

The 18th Bu­co Li­ons Ka­roo to Co­ast moun­tain bi­ke chal­len­ge was held t­his past wee­kend with a ca­pa­ci­ty field of 4 700 en­trants, and for one Knys­na pho­to­grap­her co­ve­ring the e­vent so­mething ex­tra­or­di­na­ry caug­ht her at­ten­ti­on.

El­le Red­man of El­le Photography in Knys­na said her he­art al­most mel­ted w­hen she saw two men, Knys­na lo­cals, cros­sing the fi­nish li­ne on a tan­dem moun­tain bi­ke. W­hat ma­de t­his so spe­ci­al was the fact that the back ri­der did so with on­ly one leg.

“W­hat a gre­at a­chie­vement it was for S­te­phen D­rew, to fi­nish t­his ra­ce with his part­ner Jef­frey Wil­l­cocks. It was re­al­ly a he­art-war­ming sig­ht,” she said.

D­rew had al­re­a­dy been an a­vid moun­tain bi­ker be­fo­re he lost his leg in a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent al­most a y­e­ar ago, ha­ving ta­ken part in a few Ca­pe E­pic ra­ces with his friend Wil­l­cocks. He said that 10 y­e­ars ago he and Wil­l­cocks had e­ven com­ple­ted an E­pic on the sa­me tan­dem bi­ke t­hey u­sed for t­his Ka­roo to Co­ast. “We le­ar­ned that ri­ding a tan­dem is e­ven mo­re dif­fi­cult than a nor­mal bi­ke,” he said.

“I star­ted trai­ning for the ra­ce in Ja­nu­a­ry af­ter my friends had ur­ged me to do so. I al­so saw it as me ma­king a sta­te­ment of sorts that I’m not de­ad yet. You can do a­ny­thing in li­fe, and fi­nis­hing the e­vent was just gre­at,” he said.

E­ven mo­re re­mar­ka­ble is that D­rew star­ted the ra­ce with the be­ne­fit of a prost­he­tic limb, but en­ded up cros­sing the fi­nish li­ne wit­hout it.

“A­bout 5km in­to the ra­ce the­re was a re­al­ly roc­ky secti­on. So­me of the ri­ders got off their bi­kes to push them so we did the sa­me. I hadn’t e­ven ta­ken that ma­ny steps w­hen my prost­he­sis snap­ped in half. Jef­frey and I spent half-an-hour stra­te­gi­sing a­bout w­hat we should do, and then just car­ried on,” he laug­hed, and so t­hey set off to fi­nish the ra­ce with his prost­he­sis in his back­pack.

* The Ka­roo to Co­ast chal­len­ge is an off-ro­ad ra­ce from U­ni­on­da­le to Knys­na via the P­rin­ce Alf­red’s pass. The ra­ce is al­so an of­fi­ci­al pre­mier see­ding e­vent for the 2018 Ca­pe Town Cy­cle Tour.

The 19-y­e­ar-old Ro­bert Hob­son won the e­vent in emp­ha­tic sty­le af­ter re­por­ted­ly ma­king a so­lo bre­ak with a­bout 40km to go. It was his first at­tempt at the 95.95km e­vent and he said at the fi­nish that he ca­me to the e­vent with ho­pes to win.

“But I didn’t re­al­ly know who would be he­re so wa­sn’t too su­re w­hat to ex­pect,” he said. Hob­son won in a ti­me of 3:17:19. Je­a­nie de Vil­liers, who fi­nis­hed se­cond in 2016, went one bet­ter in the wo­men’s ca­te­go­ry to win in a ti­me of 3:59:50. “I ex­pected to suf­fer and I got that,” said the vi­si­bly e­c­sta­tic 36-y­e­a­rold at the fi­nish. “I’m so hap­py to ha­ve so ma­ny pe­op­le on my si­de and the way it play­ed out. A very spe­ci­al thanks g­oes out to my co­ach John Wa­ke­field,” she said.

Ac­cor­ding to me­dia li­ai­son for the e­vent Jazz Kuschke, con­di­ti­ons for the ra­ce – which has an as­cent of 1 521m and a 2 244m des­cent – we­re per­fect, with o­ver­cast skies and cool­er tem­pe­ra­tu­res than i­ni­ti­al­ly fo­re­cast. “Mo­re im­por­tant­ly, the wind stay­ed a­way,” Kuschke said.

Top ra­cers Men:

1. Ro­bert Hob­son 03:17:19; 2. C­har­les M­cFall 03:21:52; 3. Mat­thew Key­ser 03:23:35 1. Je­a­nie de Vil­liers 03:59:50; 2. Ni­co­la Gi­li­o­mee 04:07:13; 3. Ti­na B­ren­zel 04:19:33

* Mo­re in­fo: www.ka­root­o­co­ast.com


P­ho­to: www.el­lep­ho­to.co.za

Knys­na lo­cals S­te­phen D­rew (back) and Jef­frey Wil­l­cocks at the fi­nish li­ne. D­rew’s prost­he­tic leg bro­ke a­bout 5km in­to the ra­ce and he had to fi­nish the ra­ce wit­hout it.

P­ho­to: E­wald Sa­die

A ri­der du­ring the 2017 Ka­roo to Co­ast MTB ra­ce from U­ni­on­da­le to Knys­na.

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