Cancer Survivor Marijke Nel Takes on the 2022 Corduroy Hard Enduro...and WINS!
Two time cancer survivor, Marijke Nel, has achieved a goal that she set four years ago, and she did it with style.
In 2018, while undergoing breast cancer treatment, Marijke knew she needed to take her mind off the pain and suffering she was undergoing. Always a competitor, she decided she needed to spend her recovery time challenging herself with reaching a goal that seemed harder than beating cancer.
After discarding various options (swimming the channel between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, climbing Kilimanjaro), she remembered the good times growing up and having fun on a dirt bike.
Decision made: she would learn to ride – and compete – on a dirt bike. AND she would challenge herself to compete in the toughest dirt bike event in Canada – the Corduroy Hard Enduro.
A Strong Advocate for Other Cancer Sufferers
Marijke’s story is known to many in the dirt bike community. She is a strong advocate in whatever she does. She believes in assisting others and has taken on the challenge of educating others about cancer and in fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society.
You can read more about Marijke and her work in the following blogs:
Marijke’s Support Team
Marijke knew she could not achieve her goal alone. She approached the Nova Scotia Off Road Rider’s Association to learn everything she could. She began by volunteering at hare scrambles. Her next step was getting trained on a dirt bike.
NSORRA’s dirt bike school is well-respected across Canada. Following the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) model, Marijke’s first lesson was with Alexandra (Alex) Josey, who herself reached the national competitive level in motocross. Other coaches jumped in to train Marijke. Steve Smith, Josh Kelly, Mike Ritter and many NSORRA members stepped forward to help Marijke grow her knowledge and skill on the bike.
As her abilities grew, Marijke became more confident and decided to compete in the NSORRA hare scramble series. She gained the respect of her fellow competitors with her “never say quit” attitude. One that has served her well in her cancer battles.
Four years later, her time has come. Marijke formed a tight group of supporters who would go to the Cord with her. One of them is her coach, and fellow cancer survivor, Josh Kelly.
Coach Josh Kelly – In his own words
AT THE CORDUROY ENDURO 2022
Lots of hugs being exchanged.
She rode like a beast! Honestly, I’ve never seen her ride so strong and confidently. She found flow and kept excellent speed. But the almost 9 hour first day took its toll and tested her stamina with the most difficult and long sections saved for last.
During an unexpected slide into a turn, I twisted my foot halfway through Saturday’s race but continued the additional 4.5 hours to lead Marijke back to the finish.
I could no longer get off my bike so my job was to pick the clean lines and set the pace, like a dirt-bike Sherpa.
My challenge was not putting my foot down. I had to stay on my right peg no matter what or I was done. I could not abandon the mission. Not now. We made it together, stayed under our time and finished Day One in first place!
The hardest part was over but emotions were deep. With such a great support team, there was no need for disappointment that I wouldn’t ride Sunday.
Stephen Howland stepped up and brought fresh energy to Day 2, riding with Marijke in Sunday’s race. It was shorter and with fewer tests. The game plan was to keep it fun and ride smart. At the check points, Marijke was trailing into second place and then third.
Hold on Marijke! Twist that throttle to the finish. Before we could see them, we could hear them. Stephen (Howland) dancing playfully on a zoomed-up Xtrainer (Xtreme) and Marijke gleefully in pursuit right to the finish line. Lots of excitement with her whole crew there and then the wait for the results.
I knew ahead of time but didn’t let on. Her points from Day 1 were strong enough to carry her standing to be crowned number 1! National Enduro Champion at the 68th Corduroy Enduro!
Congratulations Marijke, you smashed this Conquest!