… that I let you know of Rika’s passing.
As you know, she had been in hospital with bacterial meningitis – an infectious disease that came with really tough odds; odds everyone hoped that Rika Viljoen – a strong and healthy woman – could beat.
Rika was heavily sedated and on life support last week and an MRI on Friday indicated that all was not well. The weekend passed and another scan this evening confirmed that her brain activity had ceased, possibly because of of a stroke in the brainstem due to the severity of the infection.
Rika had been in our adventure racing family for around 12 years and in this time was a regular participant in many, many adventure races – from sprints to expeditions – as well as single discipline events. Strong and determined, you could be sure to see Rika urging her teammates to get a move on in transition. And you could usually hear her approaching – laughter ringing through the mountains. I don’t think I ever saw her without a bounce in her step, regardless of how long a race or how tired she may have been.
Rika took a bit of a break from racing when she had her two girls; she was back in the saddle this year and racing fast and strong with her husband Richard Kolbe. They were missed at this past weekend’s Swazi Adventure, in which they would have been participating.
A vibrant woman, Rika will be missed and fondly remembered by all those that had the fortune to know her. She was a bright light that stood out in every crowd – and team. Her teammates will treasure memories of races with Rika by their sides.
Our thoughts are with Richard and their two girls.
It is likely that a memorial for Rika will be held this Friday (26 September). We’ll let you know where and when as details are confirmed.