World-renowned mountaineer and polar adventurer, Alex Harris, will take up the challenge of riding the legendary Absa Cape Epic - a challenging 781km mountain bike race with 16 300m of climbing. At 25 years of age, Harris was the youngest person ever to lead an expedition to Mount Everest.


Alex Harris on Mount Everest in 2005.

After joining the Mountain Club of South Africa in 1992, he started to fulfill his desire to climb some of the world’s highest mountains. In 1996, Alex became the youngest person ever, at the age of 25, to lead an expedition to Mount Everest. Harris further became the first South African to climb on all seven continents and has climbed the seven summits, the highest mountain on each of the continents. He is an established speaker on the school and corporate circuit, a keen caver and always seeks adventure in faraway places. When he is not at the top of a peak, deep underground or sharing his story on stage, you are sure to find him tearing along a stretch of tar on his beloved road bike, preparing for his next journey.

Harris won 5 gold and one silver medal in his age category (35 to 39) at the 2010 South African Track Cycling Championships. He also won the Freedom Challenge ‘Race Across South Africa’ (RASA) in in 2010 in 14 days and 8 hours. In 2011, Alex successfully defended his Freedom Challenge title and is the current record holder.


Alex Harris during the Freedom Challenge.

Picture by Erik Vermeulen.

Says Harris: “I’m really excited about competing in this year’s Absa Cape Epic and cant wait! My partner is Renato Sabbioni, a true racing snake, but I’ve got the mental game from years of doing silly things. I think this gives us a good all round arsenal. Guaranteed to suffer but have fun while were doing it.”

They train together two or three times a week. “Mondays I do a 2 hour hill session plus gym, Tuesdays a 3 hour trail session and run in the evening, Wednesdays an easy 8 to 10 hours, Thursdays I gym and on Fridays I rest. Saturdays I normally race or do a 3-hour ride and on Sundays an easy two hour recovery. I eat as much as I can! Breakfast consists of soaked oats, lunch is pasta or a sandwich and dinner normally chicken or pasta.”

His advice to other participants is “to not think too much about the whole race, just think about the next stage. I think to complete this race successfully you need to focus on one day at a time with realistic expectations. I’m literally looking forward to everything on this year’s race.”

He reckons one must “never give up, and I don’t mean just the race. But never give up on the dream - the days, weeks, years even that it sometimes take to live what’s in your heart!”

In his private time, he enjoys his stamps and comics, watching dvd’s with his wife and browsing coffee shops. His ambitions for 2012 are to “go faster in the Freedom Challenge, climb a couple of mountains and take my 3 year-old on her first rock climb.”