Benky Wins The Rhino Run in Record TimeJan Heine
Just minutes ago, Kevin ‘Benky’ Benkenstein finished the 2,712 km (1,685 miles) of The Rhino Run bikepacking race. After traversing the rugged Cape Province of South Africa and the Karoo and Namib Deserts, Benky arrived in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, just before midnight (local time). For 7 days, 18 hours and about 20 minutes, Benky raced not just the other riders in this year’s The Rhino Run, but also the ghosts of 2022.
Last year, Benky and Abdullah Zeinab raced neck to neck for almost 8 days, leaving a veritable who-is-who of international racers in their dusty wake. The final showdown on the steep climb into the Namibian highlands saw Abdullah prevail. Benky arrived just 17 minutes later.
This year, Benky was alone at the front of the race, but it soon became clear that he was also racing for the FKT (Fastest Known Time). Riding alone, could he beat last year’s incredible pace?
Riding a Curve Big Kev, equipped with Rene Herse 700C x 55 mm Fleecer Ridge tires instead of last year’s mountain bike tires, Benky rode clear of the other racers right at the start. From then on, he pursued his solo ride. After 1,600 km (1,000 miles), just before crossing from South Africa into Namibia, Benky pulled ahead of the dots of last year’s race leaders. Riding at night to avoid the hot daytime temperatures in the Namib Desert, he expanded his lead. Covering between 300 and 380 km (185 and 235 miles) a day over washboard, through deep sand, and up the steep mountains of the Namibian highlands, Benky never faltered or slowed. At the finish, he was almost two hours ahead of the previous FKT.
Two hours over almost eight days! This tiny margin shows how much focus and perseverance this race required, in addition to just raw power. The finish photo above probably says it all.
Congratulations, Benky! We look forward to hearing the full story of your incredible ride after some well-earned rest.
- Interview with Benky before this year’s The Rhino Run
- Abdullah’s bike from the 2022 race
- Tracker for the 2023 The Rhino Run
Photo credits: Max Sullivan (Photo 1); The Rhino Run (Photo 2), Long Ride Addicts (Finish Photo)