Three days of intense competition, 30 accomplished competitors but the final three positions available to represent South Africa in the Land Rover G4 Challenge International Selections were finally decided.
The SA Selections, which ran from August 18-20, was concentrated at the Tala Game Reserve near Pietermartizburg for two days, with the final day taking place in and around the Durban city centre and the SunCoast Casino and Entertainment World ? the two distinct locations catering for the respective rural and urban elements that are a hallmark of the Land Rover G4 Challenge.
Intense mental and physical tasks throughout the competition gave the participants a chance to prove themselves and their ability to cope with extreme challenges of every kind.
According to Rob Timcke, event director for the Land Rover G4 SA Selections, the event is not simply a test of physical ability.
"Everything was done to test the competitors both mentally and physically, ensuring that they will be able to use their physical skills and mental aptitude to adapt to the challenges and the unpredictable circumstances they will face on the global event," he said.
Proving the level of professionalism and calibre of people involved, many of the competitors are regular adventure racing competitors, completing up to 580 km five-day events which push the absolute boundaries of physical endurance.
South Africa's 2003 Land Rover G4 Challenge representative, Chester Foster, was equally impressed with the competitors.
"We?ve seen some of our country?s top athletes competing over the three days, and the pedigree is unbelievable," he said.
The G4 Challenge final, which spans four countries around the world over four weeks starting at the end of April 2006, involves the entire Land Rover product line-up, using all five nameplates.
As the newest products in the stable, the Discovery 3 and Range Rover Sport will feature in most of the competitive action, with selected sections using the Freelander.
The Range Rover and Defender will primarily fulfil the technical, support, media and back-up roles.
A total of 134 Land Rover vehicles will be used throughout the event.
The following people made it through to the final day:
Alan Bye, Philip Swanepoel, Arnold de Swardt, Theo Grobler, Fritz Pienaar, Richard Kolbe, Kirsten Burrows, Marijke Nel, Martin Dreyer and Graeme Anderson.
Ultimately it came down to just three, and Marijke Nel became the first woman to represent SA in the G4 Challenge International Selections, accompanied by Martin Dreyer and Richard Kolbe.
Marijke Nel (37) is an estate agent from Richards Bay and has previous experience on this type of event, having been a competitor in the Camel Trophy in 1998.
However, since then, she hasn't been involved in any competitive activities that are related to the Land Rover G4 Challenge, with rugby being her primary sporting activity.
Martin Dreyer (36) from Cape Town is a professional sportsman, with his sporting involvement mainly surrounding the rapidly growing adventure racing genre.
Richard Kolbe (29) from Johannesburg is another of the accomplished adventure racing brigade, although his sporting background is in hockey.
Kolbe is a qualified civil engineer, but has diverted into business management consultancy.