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Hannele completing the prologue at the Absa Cape Epic 2015.

Having done all thirteen Cape Epics since it’s inception can’t have been easy. Which year was the hardest for you, and what was it that made it particularly challenging?


Every year brings its own challenges and no Epic is ever easy. I raced it up to 2011, so that was obviously tougher than now that I am doing it for the enjoyment too.

Which year, if any was your favourite year and why?


The year I won in 2005, of course.

The Epic is at heart a team event. How many times have you finished with a partner, and how many times have you lost your partner along the way?


Out of the 13 Epics I've completed, I have had to finish three on my own.

Does losing a partner after all that preparation affect your morale, or does it serve as motivation?


It is always tough to lose your partner as it takes away that team spirit, but you need to deal with a lot of very tough things that might come your way in the Epic. That is why it needs a strong mind and not only a strong body to do the Epic. I think every finisher ever, can feel very proud.

What characteristic in yourself do you think has contributed to your achievement?


Passion, resilience, and drive.

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What has changed in terms of your preparation over the years? And is there anything you would recommend to Epic newbies to ensure their training is up to scratch?


Because I own my own company now, I cannot train like a professional anymore and because I am 51 years old, I can definitely not race like one. I will always try to do my very best, but there comes a time in your life, where you realize that you are training, not to get better anymore, but rather to not become weaker too fast. My advice to newbies is to have respect for this race. Do the right preparation in your training, your nutrition, and your equipment and if you feel out of your depth, find someone that has done an Epic to help you with advice and programs.

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What is the key to staying healthy for eight days?


Keep your immune up by using good supplements. Do not eat funny things that you are not used to. Try to stick to your normal routine and sleep as much as possible. Stay off your feet after every stage as much as you can. Make sure you have warm clothing to put on after the stage as you body might feel warm but your immune system will be low and prone to catching bugs ... and finally: DO NOT KISS strangers or even people you know.

How has the event evolved since the beginning?


There are not enough pages to tell you, but what I can say, is: WELL DONE Kevin and crew from starting with a few tents, trucks, mattresses, disgusting food, and almost no sponsors and believing enough in your dream to have created one of the most amazing events ever. From no stars and a dream, to a Milky Way.

Other than your bike and riding gear, what’s the most essential item to pack?


Your Bible, because you are going ask for a lot of help during the eight days. You can still ride naked, but your bike must already be your best friend.