Four students have helped the UCT Mountain and Ski Club shake the Boland 90 monkey off its back.
After finishing as close runners-up in the previous four stagings of the 90km hiking challenge, held over three days in the rugged Hottentot Holland Mountain range just outside Grabouw each year, the frustrated hikers that made up the previous UCT teams decided to step aside for a new squad in the 2004 event. In came Gareth Alcock, Kilian Hagemann, Stijn Laenen and first-year student Anthony Hall, and over the long weekend of September 30 to October 2, walked UCT to glory in the men's competition, their first victory at the Boland 90. The event is an all-round survival challenge, much more than just a stroll in the Hottentot Holland Nature Reserve, explains the club's chairperson, Christina Jongens. In addition to testing competitors' orientation skills - it's easy to lose your bearings out there - they also have to complete a number of tasks, including a tricky river-crossing and a first-aid procedure. "It's a very gruelling, physically-challenging competition," says Jongens. "We didn't expect to win, so it's a very big achievement for us."
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