First Father to Complete a Cape Epic with His Daughter and Son

A true family affair, after completing his third Cape Epic with his brother Shane, Mike’s forth Epic was completed with his daughter Keira, and then his fifth was with his son Kyle. This is the story of Mike’s 5 Epic journey.

After a serious motor bike accident at 49 years old that de-gloved his left foot, broke his pelvis, and crushed his wrist and fingers, Mike Russon was told by his surgeons to bode farewell to any future sporting endeavors.
However, within 8 months, Mike would be turning fifty and instead decided it was time to reset some personal goals.
First up, was to enjoy supporting a world-wide event. Second was to catch a 7kg plus tiger fish.
And then the third goal, with tipping the scales at 100kgs, was to take part in a physically challenging activity.
He sought to ask a friend “what’s that cycle ride you did last year over 7 days, that you said is the toughest in the world?” To which his friend replied “what, the Cape Epic?”
And that’s where Mike’s journey began.

After spectating a Brazilian football match, catching his 7kg + sized fish in the upper Zambezi, and with only 6 months left on the clock, there was no more time to waste. So, Mike went out and bought a bike. Proceeded to get lucky with a charity Cape Epic ticket and hired coach, Erica Green, to lead the way.

Cape Epic #1 | 739 Kilometers | 15 900 Meter Climb

With being brand new to the world of mountain biking, completing his very first Epic was incredibly tough. But succeeding in dropping his bodyweight from 100kg to 79kg most certainly helped.
After completion, he found himself thinking, “Great, what’s next?”
But then quickly remembered, after reading the words of late world MTB champion Barry Stander, where he stated ‘a man is only worth his mettle when he has completed as many as 3 Epics’. The challenge was on.

Cape Epic #2 | 691 Kilometers | 15 400 Meter Climb

Mike ended up picking the same Epic partner, who unfortunately got over-confident with eating one too many cheeseburgers and completing fewer hours of training than before.
After being told by his partner “don’t burn your matches and push too hard at the beginning,”
Mike started day one, pushing his partner up hills and as a result his own heart rate to the max.
By water point one Mike’s partner was done and dusted and threw in the towel. The Epic will of course spit anybody out who chooses not to train properly.
Now, alone for the next six days, Mike had to re-strategize. He fell hard the second day tearing all his ligaments in the knee causing his kneecap to double in size with the swelling.
However, he finished the remaining 85km. After threats from the doctor to pull Mike’s racing board away due to all the torn knee ligaments, Mike contested that without an MRI result, the doctor might be wrong. The doctor replied “I do not need to perform an MRI; I can see by how you manoeuvre your leg that I am 90 percent correct. To which Mike replied, “but possibly 10 percent wrong?”
Mike continued to negotiate with the doctor to let him come back in the morning, if the doctor still felt the same then he could disqualify Mike from the race.
By morning, Mike’s knee had only ballooned further. So, he decided to keep his 100% chance of competing and never went back to see the doctor. Three letters are the main reason for Mike’s success in life and they are P M A. Positive mental attitude.
Which boils down to, him having the absolute belief, without a shadow of doubt, he will be successful in whatever it is he sets out to do.
So, after getting bandaged up by a great physio, whilst fellow riders looked on with absolute disbelief, Mike set off for day three!
On the last day, after crossing the finishing line, Mike happened to see the same doctor who expressed his surprise to hear he had successfully completed the grueling race. As Mike left their conversation, he called out the three magic letters “P M A” which no doubt left a very confused look on the doctor’s face.
Disclaimer: Mike of course does respect the fact that the doctor’s advice was given with Mike’s best health interest in mind.

Cape Epic #3 | 658 Kilometers | 13 530 Meter Climb

Mike’s third epic adventure was embarked on with his brother Shane.
Shane had legs like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mike realized his brother was going to be the challenge and not the Cape Epic.
Unfortunately for Shane, he contracted food poisoning for the first 3 days of the race. A major set-back for Shane, but a relief for Mike.
Mike was impressed by Shane’s ability to dig as deep as he needed to, and despite the downfall, the brothers’ Epic journey was done and dusted.

Cape Epic #4 | 620 Kilometers | 15 350 Meter Climb

Mike’s fourth epic was completed with his daughter Keira D’Aguiar who religiously followed their coach Barry Austin’s, training program to the finest detail. Mike still to this day does not know how she managed to find the time, as a mother of a two and three year old, managing an online fish business (Go Fish) as well as completing her third degree in psychology. But as they say, “If you want anything done, never ask an idle person!”

Unfortunately, 12 days before the Epic, Mike was involved in a MTB crash and suffered a C 7 crack in his neck and three grade-2 tears in his upper right leg. One can only imagine what medical advice Mike was given regarding him pursuing a race like the Cape Epic.
One doctor claimed with 99% certainty that Mike would suffer a grade-3 tear. Mike, armed with P M A, simply replied “there is always still the 1% chance it won’t.”
From then on, Mike put together the quickest plan to heal which involved; his powerful mental mindset, a great physio and daily use of the Aqua Ozone Elite machine which has a demonstrated 20-year history. Aqua Ozone converts oxygen to ozone thus increasing the amount of oxygen to the body by up to 30%. This action sped up the healing process of the torn muscle tissue Mike had encountered and was his lifesaver as time was not in his favor.
On the day of the prologue, Mike arrived with his grumpy leg and his daughter looking awful. Tearfully, Keira informed him that she was suffering from a stomach bug which had kept her awake all night. Keira began to vomit again, and Mike was left thinking, “now this is going to be an interesting Epic!” Like Laurel and Hardy, they worked hard as a team getting through the prologue.
Day 1 involved Keira not being able to keep anything down. Day 2 the same.
Their coach, Barry Austin, had instructed them to eat two hundred calories and 500 ml water every hour whilst riding. Therefore, one can only imagine what riding for 2 days not being able to keep anything down must have been like!
However, Keira focused on the fact that she knew her legs were good to go, she had trained for this and was therefore determined to mentally block out the negative signals her mind was sending regarding her discomfort.
On day 3 Keira finally started to show signs of recovery. And in hindsight, Mike realized Keira’s situation must have been a benefit to his leg, as he was of course still nursing the healing of his grade-2 tears.
This short-term benefit came to a screeching halt once Keira got her second wind and went racing off!
Day 4 was not without its drama, as they collected their bikes in the bike park, Keira noticed someone had stolen the battery needed for changing her gears. With no battery you are forced to ride one gear the entire day. Mike gave Keira his spare battery, knowing his current battery was going to go flat. In true dramatic fashion, this indeed happened with 30km still to go. This of course forced Mike to throw his strategy of not pushing his damaged leg too hard, right out the window, as he pumped his leg to get him up the climbs.
They managed to complete the day but never had Mike experienced such pain as he did until about 3am the following morning. Remarkably, Mike felt significantly better at the start line, but he simply put this down to the power of the mind and his capability to block pain and to focus on the ride ahead, just like his daughter had done. And that is how Mike’s fourth Cape Epic was done and dusted.

Cape Epic #5 | 657 Kilometers | 17 250 Meter Climb

Mike and his son Kyle, had trained well together, completing previous races such as the mighty Attakwas which involved covering 120kms and climbing 2900 metres. Many might remember how temperatures soared over 52 degrees during that race, which also experienced the highest drop-out rate in the history of mountain bike riding. Around 65 percent of riders never finished the Attakwas. Mike and Kyle had to assist many along the way with drip drop and water and ended up finishing on 11 hours and 1 minute, obviously terribly disappointed to miss the cut-off, an extremely unfortunate experience which could have been avoided had the race organizers planned better, as at one water-point they, along with other riders, were forced to wait for a crucial 5 minutes.
Nevertheless, it proved to be a great preparation ride for the epic, as one cannot avoid the heat.
And the 2022 Cape Epic delivered 40-degree heat on day ONE!
Fortunately, Mike and Kyle had completed most of their training during the midday heat and were well – climatized. Many riders however suffered from heat stroke, with sadly one rider even passing away.
Mike and Kyle certainly bought ground along the way (which for those who are unaware, is the socially acceptable, polite way in the MTB world, of saying they connected enough with the ground!). It was simply shocking to witness how group numbers dramatically reduced due to injuries and heat stroke.
Word on the mountain, was that 2022 delivered the toughest Cape Epic ever put together, and the highest fall-out rate ever experienced, was certainly evidence of this.
Their last day was supposed to be the easiest, with only 2000m of climbing. But unfortunately, Kyle’s gear changer would not work. Requiring Kyle to ride out the last day out on only one cog, and thereby burning every match in the box to conquer another mighty Cape Epic alongside his father.

A phenomenal Epic journey resulting in Mike being the proudest dad, of 57 years old, to ride and complete his 4th and 5th epic with his son and daughter, respectively.

Mike’s advice to all, as quoted by Barry Austin their cycling coach, “when you think you are done you always have 40 percent left in the tank. When in doubt pedal it out!”