Gold Rush Hard Enduro returns to Pilgrim’s Rest

Frieda Paton

The third Gold Rush Hard Enduro held on March 23rd in Pilgrim’s Rest once again held up to its promise of being extraordinarily challenging.

Competitors could enter in the Bronze (70Km), Silver (85Km) or Gold (82Km) class, each with different obstacles requiring progressively more advanced skill. Using GPS navigation, altogether 72 riders crisscrossed the mountains, valleys, gulleys, and even old rail tracks, surrounding the village.  While the rain held off on the day, heavy rains the night before made for slippery going.

Only eight competitors completed the Gold route. The winner, Barend Erasmus, finished in 3 hours 13 minutes, nearly an hour-and-a-half before Bryce van Heerden who took second place in 4 hours and 40 minutes.  Matthew Burger came in third after 5 hours of hard riding.

To get an idea of the challenges facing the riders, imagine looking up from the foot of a steep mountain slope and eventually picking out the pinprick of a rider making his way down to where you’re standing. Or, as one mother described, watching your child navigating a muddy path running right next to a cliff – a heart-stopping feeling.  Even highly competitive riders, who had competed Africa’s most challenging Roof of Africa Enduro event, were heard to describe some of the obstacles as scary.

“Challenging, tough, but a “lekker” experience,” Sabie local, Jacques van den Heever described the event. “I’ll do it again but will need the year to recover.” He refers to himself as a social rider and was exhausted after riding long and hard for nine hours solid to complete the Bronze route. Van den Heever believes that the Gold Rush Hard Enduro offers excellent practice to sharpen your skills for regular Enduro competitions.

Robin Flores, the main organiser, explained that they were disappointed at the low number of entrants. Considerable resources went into putting on the event and also countless hours designing the routes. However, on November 9th a regular event will be held in Pilgrim’s Rest as part of the Lowveld Enduro Club Series.  He expects over 200 participants and hopes that after giving riders a taste of the area, more will enter the demanding Gold Rush Hard Enduro in 2020.

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