Dreyer Takes Freedom Challenge Win After Week of High Drama

Endurance legend survives food poisoning to win SA's longest MTB event.


Mike Finch |

Endurance legend Martin Dreyer won the 2019 Freedom Challenge for the fourth time on Friday despite collapsing on the side of the road and being rescued by a local farmer two days from the finish.

The 50-year-old seven-time Dusi Canoe marathon winner holds the record for the 2300km course from Pietermaritzburg to Wellington of 10 days, 6 hours and 40 minutes but finished this year in 10 days, 14 hours, 33 minutes after suffering a severe food poisoning incident near Die Hel where he blacked out on the side of the road and had to be rescued. At the time Dreyer was on target to better his own record but was forced to recuperate for 19 hours.

“I was going steady heard on the easiest part of the whole course and on a high,” he told his supporters on a Whatsapp voice note. “But then 20 minutes later I was on the side of the road with severe nausea and I lay in the dirt for four hours not even able to get to my bag.”

Dreyer eventually managed to get up but blacked out shortly afterwards.

“I’m not entirely sure how long I lay there but I definitely hit my head on some gnarly bushes and my helmet was knocked askew,” he said.

Luckily a local farmer found Dreyer and took him back to the farmhouse and look after him overnight while he continued to battle with nausea and diarrhoea. The next morning, Dreyer told is supporters that he was ‘good enough to put a pedal stroke in front of another pedal stroke so would continue after being nurtured and look after by the farmers family.”

“I’m really sorry for dropping the ball on this one,” Dreyer said in the voice note, his voice breaking with emotion. “It wasn’t an exhaustion thing but you have to deal with stuff that comes from the side and you don’t see. I have to now pick myself up.

“The motivation is knowing you guys are enjoying watching us push ourselves. It has been pretty hard and brutal this year but it’s something I love and I find it extraordinary. So I’m going to go and say hello to my bike this morning and get the show on the road.”

Listen below to Dreyer’s emotion message to his supporters…

 

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