2019 Athletes

 Who will stand on the podium this year?

Mountain Biker / Trail Runner / Paraglider

 

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Justin Armstrong
Team - Mountain Biker
SADLY HAD TO WITHDRAW DUE TO INJURY

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Justin is a familiar face at the annual X-Berg Challenge and has competed as a mountain biker every year since the inaugural race in 2013. Justin’s adventurous nature and athletic endurance make him a force to be reckoned with and he has explored the Drakensberg extensively over the years looking for the best routes through the mountains. In 2018 Justin and his team mate Andre Dempers won the overall X-Berg Challenge, cycling 372 km to the finish line ahead of the trail runners and paragliders.

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 Tanya Cronje
Team
Trail Runner

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Tanya is an avid rock climber and doesn’t yet see herself as much of a trail runner or endurance athlete. After running her first 40 km trail run, Tanya has decided to see how far she can go and this will be her first X-Berg Challenge.

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Laurent Borella
Solo
Paraglider

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Laurent has been flying paragliders since 2001 and is the organizer of the Vercofly – a hike and fly race that takes place in the Swiss Alps (2019 will be the 11th edition). Laurent has participated in many hike and fly competitions such as Vercofly, Airtour, Transdromoise and Red Bull Element. “For me this will be my first time in South Africa and I am really excited about it!”

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Andre Dempers
Team - MTB Goats
Mountain Biker

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Andre has been competing annually in the X-Berg Challenge as a mountain biker since the first race in 2013. Andre is an incredibly strong athlete and his commitment, sense of humour and adventure led him to first place in the 2018 race with team mate Justin Armstrong proving that cycling can be faster than trail running or paragliding your way through the Drakensberg. Andre is back for his 7th year chasing the Dragon! His saddle-mates are Jonathan Bass & Peter Jouchin in the 2019 X-Berg Challenge.

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Neel Breitenbach
Solo
Trail Runner

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Neel’s blinding love for the mountains started many moons ago on a weekend away with friends. From running and mountain biking through them to paragliding over them, there is always magic in the mountains for Neel. He has recently been spending a lot of time running and flying in the Outeniqua and Swartberg Mountains with some adventure racing in-between. Neel has unfinished business with the Dragon - this will be his 3rd year trail running the X-Berg Challenge.

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Ria Moothilal
Solo
Paraglider

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Ria loves flying and the mountains – he is still working on the athlete part! He has cycled across Africa, competed nationally in skydiving and has now become an avid participant in the South African paragliding competition scene. This will be his second X-Berg challenge as a paraglider.

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Jon Kirkman
Solo
Mountain Biker

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This will be Jon’s first X-Berg Challenge. Jon is a long distance mountain biker who comes from an unsupported bikepacking background. Jon has completed a number of multiday unsupported trips through Lesotho and other parts of South Africa and has also spent significant time riding unsupported in remote parts of the Ecuadorian Andes. Although Jon’s focus is mostly on bikepacking and not racing, he is close to peak fitness and placed 2nd in 2018’s TransDrak 24 hr Mountain Bike Quest in the solo elite category. With Jon’s level of fitness and experience in long distance unsupported riding and navigation, he will definitely be one to watch out for in 2019’s X-Berg Extreme Challenge.

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David Barkhuisen
Solo
Trail Runner

SADLY HAD TO WITHDRAW DUE TO INJURY

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David competed in his first X-Berg Challenge in 2017 as a trail runner doing a mixed discipline relay with team-mate Piers Pirow mountain biking. They did exceptionally well finishing 2nd overall and this inspired David to enter 2018’s race solo. Illness forced David out of the 2018 race but 2019 sees him coming back as an exceptionally strong competitor. David is an avid adventure racer and has completed multiple Expedition Africa's as well as many shorter events such as Wartrail, Full and Double Moon Adventure Races and the Karkloof 100 mile trail run.

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Laurent Monneron
Solo
Paraglider

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Laurent is a paraglider from Switzerland competing in his first X-Berg Challenge in 2019. Laurent loves adventure and has a lot of experience with hike and fly events having done ten Vercofly as well as the Eigertour and Jura hike and fly.

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Licarmi Smith
Solo
Mountain Biker

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Licarmi's dream is to follow in the footsteps of South Africa's best XTERRA triathletes. As she slowly but surely progresses on her triathlon journey, Licarmi likes to do out of the ordinary races which is how she found her way to entering her first X-Berg Challenge this year. What she lacks in muscle she makes up for with a strong will that always carries her through! 

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Vanessa Fisher
Solo
Trail Runner

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Vanessa lives for adventure and loves getting into the wild. When running at home in Cape Town she usually has her faithful X-Pointer dog Duke with her, but on the X-Berg it is just her and the elements and she feels completely safe out in the mountains alone. Vanessa is a strong athlete and has done numerous trail runs and adventure races. She is an experienced X-Berger having seconded her paragliding husband in two races and subsequently, she decided to enter as a solo competitor in 2017 and 2018 winning the trail running category both years. In this her 3rd race, she hopes to finally conquer the Dragon!

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Ruard de Bruyn
Solo
Paraglider

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Ruard is a paraglider that has had great success in South Africa’s paragliding competitions and was ranked #9 in South Africa in 2017. Ruard is new to the hike and fly scene but has always wanted to do it.This will be Ruard’s first X-Berg Challenge and he is looking forward to combining fitness and flying for an amazing adventure!

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Russell Smith
Team
Mountain Biker

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Russell has entered his very first X-Berg Challenge as a mountain biker in the mini event. Russell has 15 years of both road and MTB experience behind him and is passionate about trail and exploration riding. He has competed in races like the Berg 100, Hill 2 Hill, Tour Durban, Amashova, the 172 km single day Ring of Kerry in Ireland and twice seconded the Sani 2 Sea Non Stop event but is also an avid hiker and has been a member of the Mountain Club of South Africa rescue team. Definitely a strong competitor for this year’s mini event! 

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 Christine Havinga
Team
Trail Runner

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Christine has completed two trail races prior to entering X-Berg: the Wolkberg and Drakensberg Northern Trail. Christine sees herself as a novice in the sport of trail running but enjoys the challenge, the journey and the outdoors.

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Mark Human
Solo
Paraglider

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Mark is not new to the X-Berg Challenge having competed in 4 previous races as both a solo competitor and team member. This will be the first time he is entering as a paraglider. In 2016 Mark and his team won the trail running category. Mark is an experienced adventure racer having done 3 Expedition Africa events. His previous race experience combined with his paragliding skill makes him a competitor to watch in the 2019 X-Berg Challenge!

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Hendrik van Zyl
Solo
Mixed Discipline

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Hendrik loves the mountains and will be returning to the X-Berg Challenge for the 6th time in 2019. “This year I will try the mini race as I am not as fit and young as I used to be!” Having only finished the race once before, Hendrik is hoping this year will be the second time and he has entered in the mixed discipline category to trail run, mountain bike and paraglide his way to the finish line.

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 Wesley Antonites
Solo
Trail Runner

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Wesley is a trail runner that will be attempting his first X-Berg Extreme Challenge in 2019. Having done the 3222 Stage Trail Run in Lesotho and a series of runs in the Magaliesberg, Wesley was inspired while photographing the Karkloof 100  miler to go longer and further this year. The X-Berg is definitely a great way to start achieving your goals!

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Ben Arnold
Solo
Paraglider

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Ben is a passionate hike and fly paraglider who loves spending his time exploring the mountains. He grew up spending a lot of time in the Drakensberg and has completed the Drakensberg Traverse – in winter. Ben is a strong trail runner and his endurance as an athlete won him first place in the paragliding category in the 2018 X-Berg Challenge which entailed mostly running and very little flying due to bad weather. Ben returns to this year’s race hoping to spend a lot more time in the air!

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Peter Jouchin
Team - MTB Goats
Mountain Biker

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Peter is a self-professed burly, handsome guy with countless accolades - too many to describe in his short resume. Peter is going to be mountain biking in his very first X-Berg Challenge along with teammates Andre Dempers and Jonathan Bass (JJ). His biggest fear is that he never gets scared and fellow competitors should beware as he has a habit of slipping rocks into backpacks…

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Luca Coreia
Team - St Martins
Trail Runner

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Luca Correia is 17 years old and will be trail running in his very first X-Berg Challenge Mini event along with St Martins school students. Luca is no stranger to trail running as he does a 10km trail run every week and he also plays squash to keep fit.

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James Heydenrych
Solo
Paraglider

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James is a working professional from the big smoke of Joburg in search of big skies and wide open spaces. James is in it for the challenge, the adventure and good times with great people. In the 2018 X-Berg Challenge, James combined trail running and paragliding in the mixed discipline category finishing 2nd overall. He is returning to 2019’s race as a paraglider, hoping to prove that paragliders are fastest!

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Jonathan Bass
Team - MTB Goats
Mountain Biker

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Jonathan Bass (or JJ as we affectionately refer to him) is no stranger to the race. JJ has a few X-Berg Challenge’s under his belt and is a mountain bike single track freak. He works too hard but loves his family, his bike and the Berg where he also used to teach paragliding. He is looking forward to returning this year as a mountain biker, teaming up with Andre Dempers and Peter Jouchin.

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Enrique Lotter
Team - St Martins
Trail Runner

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Enrique loves the outdoors and keeps himself fit doing obedience and agility training with his energetic dog - a Shepherd cross Husky. This will be Enrique’s first X-Berg Challenge and he will trail run the Mini event along with fellow St Martins school students.

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Jeremy Holdcroft
Solo
Paraglider

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Jeremy is a talented sportsman: from sailing, rock climbing, paragliding and para-motoring to flying motorised and non-motorised light aircraft. Jeremy has competed annually in the X-Berg Challenge since 2014 and came 2nd in last year’s paragliding discipline. “I am just a regular chop who enjoys torturing himself in the hope of an epic flight in the Drakensberg...I am still trying to finish the bloody race!”

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David Midley
Team - St Martins
Trail Runner

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15 year old David has been working hard preparing himself for his first X-Berg Challenge Mini. He has been doing regular Parkruns and practicing trail running with his school. He also keeps himself fit playing hockey and cricket. David will be trail running in this year’s event along with fellow St Martins students.

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Amir Bhika
Team - St Martins
Trail Runner

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Meet youngster Amir who will be trail running his first X-Berg Challenge Mini event with fellow St Martins students. Amir keeps himself fit Indoor Rock Climbing in his free time and has also done the Dischem Sun City Swim.

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Pierre Carter
Solo
Paraglider

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Pierre is one of the organisers behind the X-Berg Challenge. Pierre grew up with the Drakensberg as his playground and has done a lot of climbing, paragliding and extreme adventure races around the world and in South Africa including 3 Redbull X-Alps, Full Moon races and the X-Berg Challenge which he won as a paraglider in 2017. Pierre feels he is getting a bit long in the tooth now and his knees have packed up but he has decided to hobble his way through the 2019 X-Berg Mini Challenge as a paraglider and hope that the flying is Funtastic!

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