PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa — The Ford Ranger will once again be the driving force behind the epic Rhodes Trail Run, which is widely regarded as one of the world’s toughest extreme mountain runs.
Conducted in mid-winter in the mountains surrounding the Eastern Cape village of Rhodes, adjacent to the Lesotho border, this tough and exclusive 52 kilometre run has an eight-year waiting list, and features a maximum of 300 entries with competitors from around the world.
The all-new Ford Ranger made its debut on the UTi Rhodes Trail Run last year, and tackled the blizzards, freezing temperatures, heavy snow and ice, as well as 2,680 metre peak altitude in its stride. The Ranger will be returning as the support vehicle of choice for the 2013 run, which is scheduled to take place on Saturday 6 July.
“This is the second year Ford is involved as the vehicle partner for the Rhodes Trail Run, providing much-needed logistics and event support for the organising team,” said race director Evie Raubenheimer.
“The Rangers thrived in the extremely difficult conditions last year, providing safe and dependable transport for our team. It will be no different for the 2013 Rhodes Trail Run, and we value Ford’s support and assistance, which contributes towards making this event such a great success.”
As part of Ford’s sponsorship, the Ford ‘Wild Card’ competition and lucky draw created the opportunity for two very fortunate entrants to be given the opportunity to compete in this exclusive and legendary race. According to Raubenheimer, in the build-up to the draw, the Ford competition page on the Rhodes Trail Run website (www.rhodesrun.za.net) achieved the highest hit rate of all time for the site.
The highly anticipated draw was conducted at the Eastern Cape Motors dealership in Port Elizabeth, with dealer principal Alan Percy pulling out the names of Andrew Vincent from Pretoria along with Christiaan Greyling from Stellenbosch.
“Both winners are first-time competitors, and are ecstatic at being the recipients of the Ford Wild Card entries,” Raubenheimer said.
The Rhodes Trail Run first took place in 1989 as a means of putting the small village of Rhodes on the map. It has literally developed legendary status over the ensuing 24 years, both due to its extreme challenges in terms of weather and terrain, and because the entries are strictly limited and issued by invitation only – there is an effective eight-year waiting list for entries.
It is organised by the husband-and-wife team of Evie and Darrell Raubenheimer from Port Elizabeth, who are supported by a dedicated team of volunteers, officials and mountain rescue paramedic crews.
Competitors follow a route that starts off at an altitude of 1,800 metres and reaches its highest point at 2,680 metres, with the athletes having to contend with sub-zero temperatures, snow, ice and freezing river crossings. The 2012 race was won by South African adventure racing athlete Iain Don-Wauchope.
Beyond the race itself, the organisers maintain a strong community focus. The Rhodes Trail Run raises funds and organises much-needed donations of clothing, blankets, toys, books and stationery for the local schools in the Rhodes area.