SANI PASS, 15 OCTOBER 2008: South Africa’s National Selections for the Land Rover G4 Challenge ended here this morning with the announcement that Jeannie Bomford, Hanlie Booyens, Richard Kolbe and Craig Carter-Brown will travel to England in February to represent South Africa at the International Selections for the Challenge itself.
South Africa’s Martin Dreyer is the Challenge’s current world champion.
Twenty of South Africa’s finest multi-sports athletes competed over six days in the Eastern Free State Highlands and the Kingdom of Lesotho for a place in the 4-person squad. South Africa is one of only two countries in the world which chooses its entrants through a two-part Regional and National Selections process – and these twenty athletes included the eight winners, the eight runners-up and four wild cards from the 120 who made it to the Regionals.
The athletes were challenged on every level in a series of nearly forty tasks designed to test their physical and mental stamina – and set up to closely emulate the kind of challenges that finalists will have to face when the 3-week-long Land Rover G4 Challenge gets under way in Mongolia in June next year.
Tasks included running, mountain biking, orienteering, kayaking, rope work, 4×4 driving, map work, compass work and navigation using the Garmin GPS.
“Even the locations were chosen for their close resemblance to the terrain in the areas where the Challenge will take place,” said Roland Reid, General Manager of Marketing and Sales for Land Rover South Africa.
He said that both race director Mark Collins, of Magnetic South, and crew member Devlin Fogg have been involved in the planning and scouting for the final Challenge in Mongolia and that the experience they’d gained there and on previous Challenges had shown through in the National Selections.
“But this event wasn’t about any one person. It was achieved as a result of everyone involved – from the team who set up the camp each day to the support drivers and the marshals who created and managed the tasks.
“It was also a dream come true for every one of us who was privileged to have experienced it. We’ve had an absolutely exceptional week – we’ve had more fun and excitement than you normally have in five years and it’s exceeded my wildest expectations.
“We put a lot of work, effort and time into this but you can never tell until it happens and it’s really the people who made it happen – and I’m not just talking about the competitors and the eventing crew who arranged it, but about the media, the sponsors and the TV crew who covered it – they all bought into the spirit of the Challenge.”
The Philip Swanepoel Team Spirit Award – which was voted for by the competitors and is named in honour of a deeply loved adventure racer who died in a helicopter accident last year – went to Tatum Prins, whose excitement and obvious enjoyment of her time in the Free State and Lesotho hugely increased the enjoyment of every person there.
“On the main event the Team Spirit Award is considered almost as prestigious as winning,” said Mark Collins.
Roland Reid said that the two-person teams from all participating countries would be named at the end of the International Selections.
“But after having seen the level of competition we did at the Regional Selections and over the last week, I’m convinced that South African multi-sports athletes are the finest in the world. And that’s why I have only one thing to say to the other countries:
“We’re coming! South Africa is serious about winning the Land Rover G4 Challenge!”
More information at www.landroverg4challenge.com. A South African supporters group – “Land Rover G4 Selections South Africa” – has been created on Facebook.