MTB riders to honour Mandela in Midlands race

Mountain bikers will again celebrate the life of the Father of the Nation when the Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash takes place on Saturday, August 24, 2019 at the Mandela Capture Site near Howick.

The three mountain bike races are part of a weekend of events that include a road running marathon, trail runs, a fun run and a triathlon, all taking place in honour of former president Nelson Mandela. The jamboree of participation sports which are centred around the world-famous Mandela Capture Site has quickly established itself as one of the top sporting events hosted in KZN.

Top-level competitors

Mountain bikers have the choice of riding in memory of South Africa’s greatest global icon in three different events – a 42km race for serious top-level competitors; an intermediate 21km event for weekend warriors and part-time mountain bikers; or a 10km fun ride aimed at younger riders and families, those who are learning the sport, and those who simply want some fun in the saddle.

This year all three events have also been opened up to E-Bikes, which will allow the growing band of power-assisted riders to be part of the celebration.

The prizes for the top riders are among the best for a one-day standard classic distance event, with R10 000 each for the winning male and female elite riders. The large prize fund normally means there is a strong contingent of top riders battling for the lead.

Last year’s women’s race winner Candice Lill flanked by runner-up Jeannie Dreyer (left) and third placed Tiffany Keep after the Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash. Picture: Tim Whitfield/Sports Wrighte

Race-winning break

Last year was no different, with Candice Lill and Matthys Beukes claiming the honours.

Beukes, who earlier this year won the Queen stage of the Absa Cape Epic, last year fought a race-long battle with Howick local Stuart Marais before making the race-winning break on a short climb just two kilometres from the finish of the 42km race.

After his battle with Marais, Beukes summed up what the Mandela Day MTB Dash means to the mountain biking community: “Riding a race with the Mandela name means a lot to me. I was inspired enough to make the effort of driving from George to Cape Town and sleep over for a night there before flying to Durban and then on to Howick to do an event I have never raced before.”

Former Pietermaritzburg resident Lill, who has recently been notching up some great results on the international World Cup circuit, was in a class of her own as she rode away from the opposition to secure a big win over the experience Jeannie Dreyer, with schoolgirl Tiffany Keep third.

All the Mandela Day MTB Dash events start and finish at the capture site in Lions River. The routes offer riders a chance to tackle some of the best trails in KZN on a course created by Nick Floros, the Pietermaritzburg-based international course designer.

KZN Cycling Development rider and second junior Kusaselihle Ngidi leads the top youth rider Travis Stedman across a bridge during the Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash last year. Picture: Gavin Ryan/Quikpix

While the slick organisation and well-prepared course are two major factors which will attract riders to this event, the chance to ride in honour of Madiba makes it a must-do for mountain bikers who want to pay homage to the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

“The Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash provides mountain bikers with a perfect opportunity to honour one of South Africa’s greatest international icons, while also enjoying a superb day of riding,” said race director Alec Lenferna from KZN Cycling.

More information on the various Mandela Day Marathon events can be found at www.mandeladm.org.za/mtb-dash/ while online entries are at www.roag.co.za