“The Route will remind you that you are travelling through an extraordinary country, chiselled out of the horrors of racial and social dispossession to become a dynamic monument to human dignity.” Makana Pocket Guide.
After a grueling 18 hour journey from Chicago to Johannesburg where I spent the night, I boarded a South African Airways flight bound for the Indian Ocean port city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province.
Port Elizabeth was founded in 1820 as a gateway for the 4000 British settlers, the so-called 1820 settlers, who were brought in by the British government in a bid to strengthen the crown’s grip on the Cape Colony’s strife-torn eastern frontier – the Frontier Country – where the Xhosas were violently resisting British occupation of their lands – In 1996, Nelson Mandela described the settlers as "Pawns in a larger game" who "were nevertheless caught up on the wrong side of history, unable or unwilling to acknowledge as equals those into whose homeland they had been implanted." From 1779 to 1879, the British and the Xhosa’s fought nine Frontier Wars which left an indelible mark on modern South Africa.
This Sunday, February 18, 2007, over 600 athletes from about 12 countries will gather in the town of Buea at the foot of Mount Cameroon, West Africa's tallest mountain. for one of the most grueling but least known extreme sports events in the world; the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope.
Mt. Fako Towering over the Town of Buea (c) Bobby10 - flickr
The race kicks off in the Molyko stadium in scorching tropical temperatures. As athletes scale the mountain slopes, they go through a dizzying array of climatic and geographical zones;
Africa: The Volcanic Sprint - a primetime hour-long television event. Presented by DorstMediaWorks and Autumn Productions (Click below to watch trailer)
At the Base of the tallest mountain in West Africa, 500 ultimate runners assemble in a dense lush rainforest to summit a live volcano. A sprinter's pace. Here, in one of the most extreme competitions on earth, Mt. Cameroon rises abruptly more than 13,000 feet from the African rainforest to ashen con. It last erupted in 2000, and features absurd 50 degree grades.