Pedal to the medal

Posted on 12 March 2013

The annual Cape Epic lives up to its name in more ways than one, particularly when you consider the multifaceted logistical planning that lies behind the event.

We have been providing medical support to the Epic since its inception and are in the final preparation stages for this year’s event – the culmination of weeks of meeting, planning, packing, moving, briefing and debriefing with the various stakeholders.

“Each year becomes more intricate and layered to eventually provide a complex interactive event road map comprising many challenges, from environmental to medical and route logistics issues,” says Mediclinic’s Dr Basil Bonner, who is the official race doctor.

This extreme mountain biking adventure runs over eight days and covers 800 km of rugged terrain. Each day we see approximately 180 patients with complaints such as saddle sores, lacerations, contusions and abrasions, trauma and metabolic problems stemming from poor nutrition and hydration. In addition, an encampment of people from 52 countries is a ripe breeding ground of seasonal viruses, camp hygiene issues and food-borne problems. The number of daily patients we see has climbed over the years despite the number of entrants remaining static at 1 244, reflecting the nature of the event.

The most common injuries are characteristics of the course – broken collar bones and wrists from rocky ground, multiple abrasions and inhalation problems due to sandy and dusty conditions, sunburn is a constant challenge and hydration and nutrition levels are watched carefully.

On average, 10% of the field eventually does not finish, although many riders who do not complete a stage for one or other reason, still cross the finishing line.

We are responsible for providing a dedicated advanced medical care service in a field hospital – a concept which is unique to Mediclinic Events. In addition, the rigours of the route require three nurse/doctor teams encamped at the refreshment stations to see to wounds and injuries en route that do not require ambulance evacuation. We are equipped to deal with any emergency, which includes swift ambulance back up. ER 24 ambulances are based at the stage locations to facilitate the effective transfer of patients to nearby hospitals for X-rays or admission.

Managing this massive field exercise is made easier by our unique electronic patient  data system which records every riders’ details and an analysis of the information constantly updates and displays on the clinical dashboard – the withdrawals, transportation calls, admissions to hospital and the most common diagnoses – with trends. This information facilitates critical evaluation and decision making, and guides concise planning around a number of clinical and management issues on an hourly or daily basis.

There is no mediocrity at the Epic – every single service provider, organiser and competitor pulls out all the stops to get 1200 riders and 800 crews through eight days of hardcore mountain biking – more or less intact.



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 Mediclinic Events

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