Cross Country has been involved in the “Vrede Padvat” since its inception in 2019, we have sponsored financially as well as having entered a few vehicles into the event.
The towns name translates into “peace” in English and apparently, the peace was a result of a bitter debate as to the location of the town when an equitable solution was reached the resultant peace bought about the name “Vrede”. During the Boer War, many battles were fought in the area.
The event is the brainchild of the local “Dominee” who with a committee plan and execute it to raise funds for the local old age home. Vrede is a comfortable drive from Johannesburg so we left mid-afternoon on a Friday aiming to check in around 15h00, this enabled us to pop into the local Spar for groceries as we would break that evening. We were all rather tired so Friday saw us having an early night as the registration and briefing would be early on a Saturday morning.
On Saturday we registered and then had a quick toasted sandwich and coffee, the briefing followed and road books were issued to the navigators. We pulled away at the allotted time but due to a slight misunderstanding we missed the turnoff to the first checkpoint and carried on too far and as a result, scored our first maximum penalty points, the knock-on effect meant that we were penalised at each of the 10 stages.
Notwithstanding we enjoyed every minute of the event which covered roughly 190 km on gravel roads, much of which was washed away and had to be covered with caution. The halfway mark saw us stopping for lunch in Memel where we had a wagyu burger and a cold drink before completing the last 5 stages, the scenery in the area was beautiful and the recent rains had turned the veld a bright hue of green. At the end of the event we handed our score sheets in and went back to the guest house to freshen up, the skies opened on our return to the school which was both the starting point and ending point so the prize giving was held in the hall which doubled as the dining area, needless to say, we never took any prizes but did win a 1st and 3rd prize for the best pictures posted on the Vrede Padvat Facebook page.
After the dinner we enjoyed Free State hospitality in the form of a great buffet dinner, what impressed me was the friendliness of the locals, we could barely move without someone chatting to us, as events go it was great fun and well organised. We struggled a bit with the roadbook but it was a first for us, next year will see us returning to drastically improve. After a short spell around the fire, we all went to bed as Sunday would be an early start. Sunday saw us packed and ready to head off to Standerton for breakfast where we would say goodbye to our colleagues in the other vehicle and head back to Gauteng. After breakfast, we took pictures in two cemeteries dedicated to the Anglo Boer war then made our way back to Johannesburg.