Van Gass, 32, a retired member of the British Armed Forces Parachute Regiment, sustained life-changing injuries in a rocket-propelled grenade explosion during his second tour of Afghanistan in 2009.
“I always had a passion for the military, but by the time I was of age I didn’t find the South African military up to scratch, so, being part of the Commonwealth, I found out I could go and serve the British.
“I went through the basic training and was deployed, and then I had my injury and suffered the loss of a third of my muscles and tissue, a fractured knee and ankle and a collapsed lung.”
Van Gass and Croxford will set off on Sunday, aiming to finish the race and test their abilities against the world’s best. “I always had an interest in the Epic, so I e-mailed the organisers last year and they liked our story.
“They’ve had disabled participants in the past, but they always had an able-bodied teammate, so we’re the first team with both members being disabled.”
Both men had to learn how to ride mountain bikes and weren’t able to train properly because of the uconducive training conditions in England.