Challenged cyclist and teammate conquer gruelling race ‘as one’
Port Elizabeth cyclist and St George’s Preparatory School teacher Bruce Campbell’s feat in finishing the gruelling Absa Cape Epic is something that should go down in history, his partner Anthony Daniels said.
And now, thanks to the pair winning the Cape Epic #ConquerAsOne title, it will.
Campbell, 29, has a rare degenerative illness, Pompe disease, making the eight-day, 691km race a near impossibility for him.
But he and his teammate Daniels, 45, emerged victorious.
Explaining the #ConquerAsOne, Campbell said that on each day of the race, one team showing immense human spirit in overcoming challenges was recognised for the title, with one team then winning the overall title at the end.
“With my disease, being able to finish a stage or event was an important moment,” Campbell said.
“We won [the #ConquerAsOne title] overall and [the judges] felt we made such a huge difference and a huge impact after all eight days.”
Campbell said he had battled with the very rare Pompe genetic disease for almost nine years. As one stage, he was unable to walk. “Pompe disease is a neuromuscular disease that causes extreme muscle weakness and pain because of a buildup of a complex sugar called glycogen in the body’s cells.
“I’ve had this disease for a number of years, my body deteriorated and at one stage I couldn’t walk,” he said.
“Currently, I’m on enzyme replacement therapy treatment. Every two weeks I get infusions
“They are trying to put the enzyme that I’m missing in my body, to help improve my quality of life and slow down the breaking down of my muscles.”
He said the treatment had helped him immensely, paving the way for him to take on the Cape Epic.
Daniels said this was his third Cape Epic and the event did not get any easier.
Seeing Campbell conquer the race was an extraordinary moment, he said.
“With his condition, for him to have done this event is something that deserves to be in history books, because [according to] the research I’ve done he shouldn’t be able to do what he did.
“I had to make sure that he was okay, that he slowed down and monitored his heartbeat.”
Daniels said his favourite moment was crossing the finish line each day.
For Campbell, the first day was the hardest as his right leg was “fused up” and he was in excruciating pain, to the extent that Daniels had to push him.
However, both cyclists said they could not wait to compete in their next Cape Epic.