The inaugural 36ONE MTB Challenge, held in Oudtshoorn, in South Africa’s Western Cape province over the past weekend, broke new athletic endurance ground and celebrated the birth of a new format of mountain bike challenge.

The 361km race, which followed a relatively circular loop and which had a 36.1-hour cut-off limit, revealed that it is essentially a unique hybrid event incorporating certain elements of stage racing, marathon racing and 24-hour racing.

“It’s an event that challenges in so many ways because it requires both day time and night time riding,” said Carel Herholdt of Dryland Event Management, the company that manages the 36ONE MTB Challenge. “It’s also a non-stop race, which really tests your endurance capacity and pacing judgment.”

First across the finish line in a time of 15 hours 27 minutes 13 seconds was Team C4D, a two-rider team comprising Jacques van Staden and Danzil Afrika. Incredibly, after a total distance of 361km, they ousted race-long rivals, Tony Conlon and Pete Stopforth of Marsilio Projects, to claim the victory by just one second!

The first multi-rider team (non-relay) home in 18 hours 01 minutes 46 seconds was the three-man Screaming Eagles unit, comprising Colin du Plessis, Jan Zonnestein and Paul Micklewood.

Christiaan van Zyl, a 40-year-old businessman from Cape Town won the solo men’s race in a time of 18 hours 17 minutes 41 seconds. Stephen Drew (18:59.39) and Kevin Taljaard (19:22.22) finished second and third respectively in an event that saw the majority of the entrants (both solo and teams) finish inside 24 hours.

In the women’s solo race, highly decorated veteran athlete and former ABSA Cape Epic winner, Hannele Steyn, claimed the honours, finishing an impressive sixth overall in 19:43.24.

The event started at 21h00 on Friday 4 May with a cut-off at 09h06 on Sunday 6 May.

“A total of 89% of the entrants completed the event, which shows that while it offers a significant endurance challenge, it’s not out of reach for the majority of committed mountain bikers and even weekend warriors,” said Herholdt.

“The team that finished third in the relay section, Wilderness Wheelers Grand Masters, comprised four riders with an average age of 62. That just shows how well this race accommodates all types of riders.”

Steven Liptz, co-founder of 36ONE Asset Management, the title sponsor, attended the event and was amazed by its impact.

“If you consider that the race distance is close to half that of the entire Cape Epic, and that the riders rode through night and day and some into night again, in temperatures that ranged from close to zero and up to over 30 degrees Celsius, you realise what a remarkable event this is,” remarked Liptz.

“We plan to grow the 36ONE MTB Challenge in future, both in terms of rider value and participant numbers. Because of the relay option, it’s an event that anyone can actually be a part of, which makes it quite special. Because it’s unique and because it offers such a formidable distance, it aligns well with our 36ONE business values of hard work, passion, dedication, team work, perseverance and, of course, fun!”

Men’s solo category winner, Christiaan van Zyl, was full of praise for the inaugural edition of the event.

“We were very fortunate it was the ‘super’ full moon and there was no cloud cover. It really made the night-time riding easier, but obviously it was essential to have a decent headlight too,” he said.

“I didn’t go to the race with the aim of winning, but I did want to do well as I really enjoy my endurance events,” added Van Zyl, who completed the event on a 26-inch hardtail bike.

“My back and glutes are a bit sore still, I could have done with some rear suspension for comfort. The event was extremely well organised. There was a refreshment point every 30km or so with all sorts of good food on offer. You don’t really need a back-up team. The route wasn’t too technical – more an endurance test than a skill test, but very worthwhile,” said Van Zyl, adding that he’ll definitely return for the 2013 edition of the race.

36ONE MTB Challenge, 361km, Oudtshoorn

Leading results:

Relay teams

1 Team C4D – Jacques van Staden / Danzil Afrika 15hrs27min13sec

2 Marsilio Projects – Tony Conlon / Pete Stopforth 15:27.14

3 Wilderness Wheelers Grand Masters – Johan Nicol, Gerhard Muller, Jan van der Westhuizen, Clive Rennie 18:26.32


1 Screaming Eagles – Colin du Plessis, Jan Zonnestein, Paul Micklewood 18:01.46

2 Perfect Balance – Johan Bornman, Marlize Moolman 21:48.34

3 Beenhare – Andre Visser, Luther Erasmus

Solo men

1 Christiaan van Zyl 18:17.41

2 Stephen Drew 18:59.39

3 Kevin Taljaard 19:22.22

Solo women

1 Hannele Steyn 19:43.24

2 Marzanne Kriel 22:00.27

3 Thea-Mari van der Sandt 25:31.24

For more information, images and full results, visit


Andreas Pankratz, one of the solo men's category riders, at sunrise on Saturday morning.


Participants were greeted with perfect weather conditions for the event.


SPE Security's Dean Swanepoel, Arnou Oberholzer and Dean Coetzee, head into the night shortly after

the start.


Riders set off at the start at 21h00 on Friday night.


Women's solo category winner, Hannele Steyn and 36ONE Asset Management's Steven Liptz.


Despite spending almost 20 hours on her bike, women's solo category winner Hannele Steyn, was all smiles at the finish.


Christiaan van Zyl, winner of the solo men's category.


Just one second separated the first two relay teams home with Jacques van Staden (front) edging out Pete Stopforth in the final dash for the finish line.