The Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) has confirmed its place as the vehicle sponsor for the 2012 Rhodes Trail Run, one of South Africa’s most arduous and legendary trail races.
The 52 km run is staged in the tranquil beauty of the southern Drakensberg mountains surrounding the village of Rhodes and, naturally, the immensely challenging terrain of the Lesotho border.
In line with Ford’s ‘Go Further’ brand philosophy, the company will be supplying the organisers with four All-New Ranger 4x4s to be used as support and logistics vehicles for the race, which takes place on Saturday 14 July.
Now in its 24th year, the UTi Rhodes Trail Run is limited to 300 entries, with participants coming from as far afield as the United States, France and Australia.
“The race has achieved legendary status in the running world, and is considered one of the most challenging events of its kind,” says Evie Raubenheimer, race director of the Rhodes Trail Run.
“With the field strictly limited to 300 competitors, we effectively have a waiting list of eight years for people eager to participate,” she says.
This, therefore, places a huge premium on each confirmed entry, despite the fact that there’s no prize money – just the personal satisfaction of tackling and, hopefully, conquering one of the world’s toughest athletic challenges.
However, as part of Ford’s vehicle sponsorship, a lucky draw was conducted for a single complimentary entry for the Rhodes Trail Run, which was linked to the event’s website (www.rhodesrun.za.net) and Twitter account (@RhodesTrailRun).
The highly anticipated draw took place on Wednesday 6 July at Ford’s Eastern Cape Motors dealership in William Moffett, Port Elizabeth, and was conducted by Raubenheimer and Alan Percy, the dealer principal.
Cecile Balkema from Fresnaye in Cape Town was drawn as the lucky ‘Wild Card’ winner, and was awarded the coveted complimentary invitation to the 2012 run.
She was elated with the news, and is eagerly looking forward to being one of the 300 athletes lining up at the start in the middle of July.
It will be an extreme challenge indeed, with drastic changes in elevation a key feature of the rough, mountainous terrain, as the race starts at 1 800 m and reaches its highest point at 2 680 m. And there’s typically thick snow, ice and freezing rivers to cross, as well as sub-zero temperatures to contend with too.
The Rhodes Trail Run was first run in 1989 as a high-profile initiative to put the small village of Rhodes back on the map, and has developed legendary status over the past 23 years.
It is professionally organised by Evie and Darrell Raubenheimer from Port Elizabeth, and boasts experienced mountain rescue paramedic crews, a dedicated support team and the great backing and family-oriented participation from the residents of Rhodes.
Along with supplying the vehicles, the Rhodes Trail Run crew who will be driving the All-New Rangers will be treated to dedicated on-road and 4×4 driving instruction provided by Ford’s innovative Driving Skills for Life driver education programme.