It was with shock and great sadness that I learnt about the death of Dusi legend, Graeme Pope-Ellis last week. My man phoned me to tell me the news and initially I thought “heart attack” but I was wrong. He was killed in a tractor accident on his farm whilst ploughing the fields – something he loved to do to relax apparently. He was 62 years old but more alive and more active than most people half his age. I saw him 2 weeks ago at the Dusi Mfula MTB race. They interviewed him at the finish and asked whether he had managed to scout any “sneaks” for the 2011 Dusi. But sadly, he won’t be here for next year’s Dusi – a race he’s won 15 times and raced consecutively for 46 years since he was 17.
Instead, it will be dedicated to him….
…This whole weekend, I’ve just kept thinking of his wife, Wendy. Their relationship was one that most couples would admire or perhaps wish for. They did so much together and seemed so utterly content. We raced alongside them on the Imana Wild Ride in 2008, which wasn’t an easy race I might add! We portaged up hills that the race organiser’s called “mothers” (for obvious reasons) and whilst Jeremy and I were gasping for air carrying our bikes up these mountains, we’d look back and see Graeme, or “the pope” as he was commonly known amongst friends, carrying not only his bike but Wendy’s too!
So although he was strong, he was gentle and softly spoken and although he was competitive he was incredibly humble.
He will be missed by us all and will be remembered for his love of the outdoors.
Our thoughts go out to Wendy and his family.
The evidence…Graeme carrying two bikes, whilst Wendy follows. A true gentlemen who didn’t let his age define his experiences, or him.