Monday, June 23, 2014

Freedom Challenge - Hadley

Just got off the phone with Jill. They had a few pretty good days, mostly through game reserves with some pretty cool views. After Jill had turned her ankle somewhat badly when a concrete step broke off at a lunch stop(!), it seems that they are doing physically better with both Jill's ankle and Liehann's shin improving (presumably due to more riding). They've also put in a few shorter days, mostly because the sections they are at right now don't really lend themselves to navigating at night. They pulled ahead of Steve and Di a few days back, though they anticipate they might catch back up, which would provide some good company anyways.
Lots of the past trail has been through game reserves and farms, with many10ft fences to climb. Jill is reporting improved upper body strength after some harrowing days. On the other hand, she said the terrain now really feels like "Africa" and doesn't resemble anything she knows from over here, with sightings of Giraffes, Wildebeest, Kudu. The weather has gotten significantly warmer, with daytime temps in the "hot" territory by now. So far they were extremely lucky with the weather having had no rain whatsoever (which is great because Jill was able to use her good non-waterproof camera to take pictures!).
Navigation continues to be the major challenge. Between ensuring being on the right path and some very rough rocky trails (Jill even got a saddle sore, which she was fortunately able to treat) they average only about 5.5-6mph. Looking at the satellite views though it seems better roads are coming up (along with longer distances between checkpoints).
They took a very short day today, as the coming section has a very difficult to navigate river gorge at the end, with the trail meandering for ~2 miles along a river (which might have some Alligators in it!) in jungle terrain - the race director advised against attempting it at night.
Other than that they are in great spirits.
Liehann's girlfriend Trang should by now be in South Africa herself (along with a friend). Liehann feels a bit pressed to make up the lost day, though we'll see if this is possible. I will keep checking the route via satellite view to see if night navigation is possible (it's amazing how much detail you get). The absolute limit for them is 25 days, because that's when they fly back!


  1. The section Jill and Liehann will traverse tomorrow is pristine African bush veld protected by Forestry & Nature Conservation. No human settlements. They've cleverly stopped over at the closest Support Station to the wilderness. From their overnight stop they drop steeply into the Groot Rivier (Big River) gorge, then commence a 3 hour 20km. relentless rocky climb to the start of one of the Freedom Challenge's most energy sapping, spectacular and rewarding sections - the traverse along the Osseberg (Ox Wagon Mountain). This 15km. river bed traverse is basically an intense jungle portage. After each of the 10 waist deep wades across the Groot Rivier the challenge is to pick up the ox wagon trail again on the other side. The total day's distance is only about 50km but will take all 10 daylight hours to complete. When they get to Cambria tomorrow evening they will be tired but stimulated by the experience. Go well and enjoy. Africa at its best!

  2. That is really great info, thanks for commenting!


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