Pierre has been flying and adventuring for a long while now. The X-Berg Challenge was conceptualized by Pierre and his event partners Linda Willemse & Alistair Stuart back in 2013 with the first event meant as a fundraiser for Pierre and his support crew James Braid to participate in the RedBull X-Alps. Due to only a handful of paragliders hiking & flying back in 2013, there weren’t enough entries to raise enough funds for Pierre & James’s X-Alps that year and so the trio decided to challenge cyclists & runners to join the event to get more entrants. The participants loved the X-Berg so much they asked the team to set up another race for the following year, and so the X-Berg became an annual event. 8 years later, Pierre has decided to give it a burn again and is in it to win it this year! Pierre says “I’m gonna give Chris Davis and Jordyn, 2Hr Chica Girl, and the Tennis club a run for their Money”
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!
Trail runner Michelle Theron has some serious races under her belt and has decided to enter the X-Berg Challenge for the first time in the 2-day Mini event. Michelle has completed the four peaks challenges several times, The UTD 62km, Maxxi race (68km), Sky run, Wild coast wild run, Lesotho Wildrun, Namaqualand Quest and Giants Cup run so should feel at home in the mountains!
Anthony Holdcroft is a paraglider that is a last minute entry into the 2-day X-Berg Challenge Mini Event. He is entering having not trained and with zero thought to route or any form of plan 🙂
Paraglider Brandon Orpwood has entered his very first X-Berg in the 2-day mini event. Brandon has competed in the Barberton and Porterville paragliding competitions, enjoys trail running off the beaten track and living life outside.
Kevin Mitchell is a paraglider from Cape Town. Kevin went to the X-Berg as a spectator in 2019 and was so impressed that he vowed to return as a competitor in 2020. Kevin will do the 2-day mini this year combining some paragliding and mountain biking in the mixed discipline and he is looking forward to the adventure 🙂
Newcomer Lamont Ferreira is looking forward to being a part of the X-Berg Challenge for the first time. Lamont is a technical canyoning guide and loves having adventures in the outdoors. He has competed in many different competitions over the years in many different disciplines ranging from long distance swimming to marathon running and triathlons. Lamont has entered the 2-day mini race in the mixed discipline.
Piers Pirow won the inaugural X-Berg on a mountain bike in 2013. Over the last 20 years he has competed in adventure races (6 Expedition Africa and other expedition races), triathlons and other endurance events. Piers also represented SA in various multi-sport events over the last 20 years, competing overseas in many world champs events. He is getting a bit long in the tooth but is going to give it a go in the 2-day mini event, even though he feels completely unprepared for it!
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.
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…
John le Roux
John le Roux has 20 years of racing behind him - mostly adventure racing and endurance races like the Wartrail Challenge and Recce mission. This will be John’s first X-Berg Challenge and he has entered the 2-day mini in the mixed discipline category.
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.
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!”
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!”
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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.
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!”
Robyn Johnson has entered the 2-day mini race for the first time. Despite average fitness and below average navigational skills, Robyn is looking forward to taking part in her first X-Berg Mini! An outdoor enthusiast, Robyn enjoys trail running, hiking and surfing small waves. She hopes to have the most fun and find the least brambles on this exciting Berg adventure!
Mark Millar is a relatively new paragliding pilot who was coerced into entering the X-berg mini challenge by two Eastern Cape pilots (Dave and Justin) when they were attending an SIV course together at Koppies Dam. The idea made sense at that time... Mark’s aim is to try hike and fly the route IF the weather/wind plays ball for the weekend. If however it is clear that there will be no chance of flying, he will take his chances on foot, so he has entered in the mixed discipline category. Mark has previously completed longer distance runs (Addo 50 miler, Mnweni Marathon) and occasionally heads into the 'berg to trail run hiking routes when the urge strikes. Not much to write home about in terms of paragliding.
Hendrik van Zyl
Hendrik is returning to the X-Berg for the 7th time! He won 2019’s mini race doing mixed discipline and will be defending his title in 2020 by trail running, paragliding and mountain biking his way to the finish line.