Exhausted cyclists reach Sarajevo
All but one of the original team that set off to cycle 2,000 kilometres from Prague on August 14 made it to Sarajevo today, although the cyclist forced to drop out by injury a week before joined the group for the last leg of the trip.
The last day of the 11-day Betfair LifeCycle Challenge, aimed at raising funds for the Renal Unit at Mater Dei, was bittersweet for the participants, with the incredible sense of achievement tempered by the knowledge that they will soon have to return home.
Before their departure from Mostar, the mood was, if anything, subdued. While the cyclists were glad they would be giving their bodies a much deserved rest, they were also disappointed that the trip was over.
The cyclists set off bright and early from Mostar, where they spent last night, and cycled 165km through the beautiful Bosnian countryside, spending hours pedaling along a narrow lake winding through narrow valleys, to Sarajevo.
The first across the line was a jubilant William Hili, who has taken up the challenge seven times and completed it four times. Just minutes behind him was Nigel Micallef, with Lee Duric in third place.
The team stopped just inside the town for all the back-up and cyclists to re-group and wait for some local cyclists and a police escort to take them into the heart of Sarajevo, once called the Jerusalem of Europe because of the many religions it hosts.
The signs of the war 15 years ago could still be seen in Mostar – where the reconstructed bridge joins together two sides of a city where bullet-riddled buildings lie in darkness between candle-lit restaurants on the banks of the river. Sarajevo, which was under siege for four years, is also trying to forget the blood of its past and it is now a vibrant and dynamic city, which the participants will be able to savour tomorrow, their first day off in almost two weeks.
The 13th Betfair LifeCycle Challenge will add several thousand euro to the €1 million already raised since 1999.
5061 7370 €2.33
5061 8920 €6.99
5061 9229 €11.65
5160 2020 €10
5170 2005 €15
5180 2006 €25