RHODES, South Africa — Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa recently sponsored four all-new Rangers for use in the legendary Rhodes Trail Run, acknowledged as one of the most arduous trail races in the world – and they conquered the test with confidence.
The traditional 52 km run takes places on the challenging, mountainous and high-altitude terrain surrounding the village of Rhodes, near the Lesotho border. This year’s event, held in July, was particularly difficult due to heavy snow falls and freezing, sub-zero temperatures.
According to organiser Darrell Raubenheimer, the conditions were so treacherous that no less than 10 routes were planned to suit varying conditions. On race day the route had to be changed constantly to cope with the persistent falling snow, ice and slippery mud.
Despite this, the Ranger 3.2 4x4 Double Cabs performed brilliantly, allowing the organising team to reach the most challenging parts of the route in comfort and safety.
“I would like to extend a big thank you to Ford for sponsoring the Rangers,” Raubenheimer said. “They were tested to the limit in these trying conditions, and everyone was astounded at their performance.
“The Rangers were indeed a key part of ensuring the event took place, and was completed successfully, in rather epic conditions.”
“My Ranger just cruised on. I engaged L4 and second gear, and the electronics did the rest. It proved faultless, even negotiating a slippery and rocky cornered incline with a severe drop-off with ease,” said Raubheimer.
The positive sentiments were echoed by David Robertson, a member of the Trail Run team driving a Ranger. “The experience of driving the Ranger was fantastic. Little did we know when we set out that we would be using the full range of 4x4 features. We experienced tar, dirt, mud, snow and ice, and the Ranger handled each aspect wonderfully.”
“The attendance at the Driving Skills for Life course was definitely a help when it came to driving in these difficult conditions,” Robertson said.
A total of 324 athletes lined up at the start of the 24th edition of the Rhodes Trail Run, and 293 commendably made it to the finish. Extreme athlete Iain Don-Wauchope (37) won the 2012 Rhodes Trail Run in a time of 3:27.10, and earned the title of “King of the Kloof.”
Vanessa Bowman (42) was the first female runner home in 12th place overall and, accordingly, was pronounced “Queen of the Kloof”.
The winner of the Ford Wildcard entry, Cecile Balkema (36), crossed the line in a commendable 132nd place.
The Rangers were also used in the build-up to the run in various community projects, which included the delivery of box libraries, stationary, educational material and clothing to the local schools in Rhodes, as part of the Run to Read Challenge.
The Rangers made their way through harsh terrain.