Celebrating 10 years at the ABSA Cape Epic

Posted on 11 March 2013

Ten years ago, race founder Kevin Vermaak realised his dream of a multi-day mountain biking event and the ABSA Cape Epic was born. It was also the first time that Mediclinic was involved in an event of this magnitude and like the other Epic pioneers this small team faced a big challenge.

As the race evolved into what is conceivably the best staged mountain biking event in the world, so too has our role, and it now offers world-class service equipped to deal with just about any medical situation.

Back in 2004, the medical assistance comprised a four-bed facility with two doctors, two professional nurses and a disaster risk management specialist, Geoff Bettison. He and Dr Basil Bonner, the official race doctor, have nine Epics under their belts and will be back this year to lead the team. In 2013 there will be a staff of seven doctors, seven nurses, three logistics experts and more than 15 medics and 30 marshals along the route.

Over the years, the Mediclinic Events team has developed and strengthened their skills and knowledge, and now is considered a leader in providing medical services at sporting and other major events in South Africa, if not globally. At the Epic, the race hospital has developed into a sleek 20-bed operation with a critical care unit able to treat even the most serious of emergencies. Of course, there have been quite a few innovations along the way.  Dr Bonner realised early on that the science of care, even in the bush, needs real back-up and he invited pathology laboratory, PathCare onboard to provide on-site testing.  This empowers medics to diagnose and treat serious conditions such as overhydration or dehydration and other electrolyte disorders on the spot and with great success.

Another critical service is the now-famous early morning saddle sore clinic which, although it has a few less than salubrious names among the riders, has saved many of them from having to withdraw from the race.  It also provides many moments of levity, such as when riders took the advice of airing their affected area quite literally and went around the race village clothed, but sans cycle shorts.

The mobile Mediclinic team is often better staffed and equipped than the medical facilities in the small towns on the route, and is able to help out in medical emergencies. One such time was when we came across a terrible multiple vehicle accident on the Franschoek pass while en route to the Epic village at Boschendal.  We were able to treat and stabilise many of the injured before they were transported to hospitals in Paarl and Stellenbosch.

Once again, we’re looking forward to another eight thrilling days filled with challenges and truimphs.



The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.

Published in Cape Epic

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