Mountain bike racers make full recovery from bee attack
Most riders continue racing Cape Pioneer Trek after treatment
All of the victims of Monday's freak bee attack at the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek mountain bike stage race currently taking place in South Africa's Western Cape Province were discharged from hospital.
Swiss national Claudia Gmuer, one of 30 competitors who rode into a swarm of bees during stage 1 of the seven-day international race was the last of the victims to be released from hospital on Tuesday and was back on her bike to complete stage 3 on Wednesday after missing Tuesday's stage 2.
Gmuer was lying second in the solo women's category after Sunday's prologue stage, but was forced to abandon the race when she was rushed to hospital in a serious condition. Gmuer was a section of singletrack when she rounded a corner and was literally hit by a wall of bees.
"They were everywhere," she said. "I didn't know what to do as they attacked me all over my body. Soon afterwards my hands started to go blue and numb and I felt dizzy. Luckily another rider and his teammate came upon the scene and assisted me to Water Point 2 where an ambulance was waiting and took me to hospital. Everyone who assisted me, from the staff, medics and fellow riders were incredible, I'm very grateful."
Gmuer, along with most of those affected by the bee incident, has resumed the race and hopes to see the race to completion on Saturday, October 20.
"I have come to this beautiful country to compete in the Cape Pioneer Trek," said Gmuer, "and I am determined to finish if I can. I will just take it day by day but I won't give up."
Unsung heroes of the incident were the Scooters Pizza girls, who were in attendance at the second water point when the victims of the bee attack arrived. Bianca Firmani describes the scene as one of disbelief and shock.
"We were waiting at Water Point 2 for the next batch of riders to come through and as a man approached us, he was covered from head to toe in 'stingers'. His skin was black and red and he had been stung on his face, his eyelids, his ears, his lips, everywhere!
"As more riders came in with similar wounds we assisted in extracting every 'stinger', applied ice packs and cream. I have never seen anything like it, but am happy we were there to help," said Firmani.
"All the riders who were affected by the swarm of bees are expected to make a full recovery," said Carel Herholdt of Dryland Event Management, organisers of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek. "We are very happy that nobody was fatally injured in this unfortunate incident and we are glad that most of the riders have decided to continue with the race."
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