2020 Athletes

Mini Race

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Russell Smith

Russell has been cycling for nearly 20 years, love adventure trail riding and endurance events. He was part of the Mountain Club of SA rescue team and the Drakensberg has always been his playground. Russell came 2nd overall in the Mini race in 2019 and will return this year to take part in the E-bike class.

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Mini Race

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Gordon Berrington

Gordon Berrington from South Africa enjoys cycling as a recreational sport but will be taking one for the team and trail running the 2-day mini X-Berg Challenge as part of Appetite Digital’s Kaaskoppen team.

Mini Race

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Jimmy de Jong

Jimmy de Jong is a trail runner joining us from the Netherlands. Jimmy has entered his first X-Berg Challenge in the 2-day mini race as a trail runner as part of Appetite Digital’s Kaaskoppen team.

Extreme Race

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Ben Arnold

Ben is a paragliding addict with a passion for all forms of the sport, but his first love is hike and fly. When he is not paragliding, Ben spends his time trail running and exploring mountains, kite boarding, mountain biking and adventure racing. Ben returns to the X-Berg Challenge for the 3rd time in 2020 as a paraglider with high hopes for epic flying weather!

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Mini Race

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Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon was born in Zambia, brought up in the Middle East, lived in Germany - all to Irish/English/Scottish/Canadian mix parents! A bit of romanticist (and mongrel) he wishes he was born in the era of proper hard core travel and adventure of the 1920/30's. No stranger to a bit of outdoor extreme and wacky fun, he has dabbled in International Nordic Ski Biathlon, Ironman's, risky sailing, adventure travel (including driving form Scotland to Cape town in a pink Ice Cream van), Mountaineering, Ultra races inc. the MDS, Oman Desert Marathon and UTMB's. He's even played International Ice Hockey for the Sultanate of Oman (only one ice rink in the country though). In his day job he pretends to be an Army Officer where his last job was officially to advise an Arabian Sultan but in reality was more a case of organising fancy cocktail parties. This aside he really actually dreams of his next far flung risky adventure where he and his most amazing partner (Fran) can really be 'alive' together. Flash has been invited to the 2020 X-Berg Mini event by his partner and her wonderful family who will act as their awesome support crew. He's flying from the damp, bleak, cold and wet UK for this so he hopes the organisers will ensure the best weather possible for the event - no pressure!

Extreme Race

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René Duc

Swiss paraglider René Duc heard about the X-Berg Challenge from friend Laurent Borella who raced with us last year. René is not big on competitions but participated in 2003’s Paragliding World Cup and has done a few Swiss comps. The X-Berg will be an exciting new experience for René!

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Mini Race

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Peter Joughin

Peter is a self-professed burly, handsome guy with countless accolades - too many to describe in his short resume. Peter is going to be trail running the X-Berg Challenge this year. 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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Mini Race

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Franzël Cilliers

Franzël was born in Kimberley South Africa and is currently living in Oman, in the Middle East. Fran has completed 3 half Ironman's, Oman Desert Marathon (multi stage race) and the New York City Marathon. She loves a challenge, which the X-Berg mini race will definitely be! Fran is thrilled to have her very experienced partner and team mate, Flash Gordon, racing with her to get her to the finish line.

Extreme Race

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Michael Semple

Mike has tackled the X-Berg Challenge twice previously, once as a Paraglider and once in mixed discipline. In 2020 Mike will compete in the mixed discipline again. “I love the format but expect to be challenged by my age!”

Extreme Race

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Vanessa Fisher

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, 2018 and 2019. “I can’t seem to give up trying to complete this amazing challenge, the X-Berg. I'm very excited about the new route!”

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Extreme Race

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Mias de Klerk

Capetonian Mias De Klerk has been a paragliding pilot for 18 years and is an active trail runner. He has competed in many paragliding competitions between 2004 and 2018 and a number of trail running events in the last 2 years. Mias will be joining us in 2020 for his  very first X-Berg Challenge and will be doing the extreme race in the paragliding category.

Extreme Race

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Laurent Borella

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. Laurent has participated in many hike and fly competitions such as Vercofly, Airtour, Transdromoise and Red Bull Element. “For me this will be my second time in South Africa and I am really excited about it!”

Extreme Race

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Thierry Ortelli

Thierry from Switzerland used to participate in many medium and long trail events and only started paragliding five years ago. As a logical result, hike and fly has become one of his favourite hobbies. Thierry has participated in a few local hike and fly competitions in Switzerland over the past 2 years and the X-Berg will be his first experience abroad.

David Scott

Mini Race

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David Scott

When David is not chasing polar bears in Antarctica or cycling across South Africa with friends, he paraglides, paramotors, kitesurfs and roasts coffee. Dave has been paragliding for years and just recently started trail running and decided it is time to combine the two and enter the X-Berg Challenge for the first time. Dave recently completed the Oxpecker trail run and has done some small adventure races, including the Lilyfontein adventure race in East London.

Extreme Race

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Jeremy Holdcroft

Jeremy is a talented sportsman: from sailing, rock climbing and paragliding to flying light aircraft. Jeremy has competed annually in the X-Berg Challenge since 2014 and came 1st in 2019’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!”

Extreme Race

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Neel Breitenbach

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 – 2020 will be his 4th year trail running the X-Berg Challenge.

Mini Race

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Justin Andersen

Justin recently qualified as a paraglider pilot and has been dreaming of doing hike and fly races. He has done the Transbaviaans cycle race, a bunch of adventure races during his school days and some trail running. This will be Justin’s first X-Berg event!

Mini Race

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Jordyn Davis

South African Jordyn Davis’s athletic resume reveals success at an undisclosed number of parkruns. Jordyn will be moving out of his comfort zone and attempting his first X-Berg Challenge in the 2-day mini as a trail runner as part of Appetite Digital’s Kaaskoppen team.

Mini Race

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Mark Wadley

Mark will be participating in his very first X-Berg Challenge in 2020 as a mountain biker in the mini event. Mark loves being outdoors, especially in the Drakensberg. He is a keen cyclist and has done numerous 3 and 7 day stage MTB races as well as road races in South Africa and elsewhere. Mark has previously competed in duathlons, triathlons, endurance events and orienteering races.

Extreme Race

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Tanya Cronje

Tanya is a trail runner who dabbles in climbing and cycling. Having participated in a few 120km adventure races and long trail runs, Tanya is ready for her 2nd attempt at the X-Berg. “Last year the race got the better of my teammate Christine and I, so we're coming back for a second round with the mountain.”

Extreme Race

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Mark Human

Mark is no stranger to the X-Berg Challenge - this will be his 6th time chasing the Dragon! Mark is an experienced paraglider and adventure racer and in addition to being an X-Berg addict, he has competed in 3 Expedition Africa events. “I am a wannabe professional adventurer whose style is somewhat cramped by 5 kids and my surgery career!”

Extreme Race

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Laurent Monneron

Laurent has been flying for 32 years and he absolutely loves to hike and fly! He participated in all editions of Vercofly and Eigertours as well as numerous races Switzerland and France. This will be the second time Laurent is to compete in the X-Berg Challenge together with Laurent Borella who was his team mate in 2019. Welcome back to Africa Laurent x 2!!

Extreme Race

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Pierard Frederic

Frederic is a paraglider of Belgian origin that lives in Switzerland. Frederic is looking forward to the X-Berg challenge to discover new horizons. He doesn’t see himself as competitive but enjoys hike and fly. Frederic has participated in three hike and fly races – Run and Fly Jura, Gruyere Fly and Jura Hike and Fly so he definitely has the right experience to make him a competitor to watch in the 2020 X-Berg Challenge!

Mini Race

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James Hodge

James does not see himself being a serious athlete and is hoping to simply be out there having fun. He will trail run his very first X-Berg Challenge this year as part of the Mini race.

Extreme Race

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Dmitrii Sheremetev

Russian paraglider Dmitrii Sheremetev is joining us for his first X-Berg Challenge in 2020 and will be doing the Extreme race. Dmitrii has been paragliding for 6 years and flies CCC paragliders. Dmitrii entered the paragliding national team of the Crimea of the Russian Federation and has participated in FAI and PWC glider competitions many times.

Mini Race

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Roy Ritzlmayr

South African Roy Ritzlmayr has a love for sports and running. He is keen to try new things and challenge himself, hence his entry into the X-Berg Challenge for the first time. Roy will be trail running the 2-day mini race with Appetite Digital’s Kaaskoppen team.

Mini Race

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Chris Davis

South African Chris Davis has entered his first X-Berg Challenge in the 2-day mini race as a trail runner as part of Appetite Digital’s Kaaskoppen team. Chris is looking forward to having some fun with a bunch of his mates in the Berg.

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