Brazilian riders, Norwegian adventurers, Americans, Germans, Australians and New Zealanders are increasingly attracted to the ride that’s billed as a tour through South Africa’s beautiful countryside.
This year 112 foreign riders will start their adventure in Heidelberg and end 900km later in Scottburgh, KwaZulu-Natal.
One of them is a repeat visitor from Germany, Danny Vogel. Vogel will be riding his fourth Old Mutual joBerg2c this year, having fallen in love with the event when he viewed a friend’s joBerg2c photo album five years ago. After looking through the pictures he immediately entered the event and has been coming back ever since.
Vogel has also bought into the community aspect of the joBerg2c and has embraced the “More than Yourself” ethos that Old Mutual encourages. Last year he donated R50 000 to the Nelson Mandela Day Library Project through the Participate for Good platform. This year he’s gone even further, building up a library that will be transported from Germany to South Africa ahead of the 2016 event.
“For me, joBerg2c is the definitive mountain biking experience,” says Vogel. “Every day is different, with wonderful, changing landscapes. Most of the riders see it as an adventure, plus the race is packed with nice people and characters that like to hang around the campfire with a beer and enjoy life. Over the last three years true friendships have been made and it feels like being part of a lovely big family. The ride is also a chance for me to give something back. It’s not about what you do or where you do it… it’s just about doing something.”
Karen Thomas, Old Mutual Head of Brand, says this giving spirit is a fantastic offshoot of the event, and something that makes the joBerg2c a special event on the South African endurance calendar. “It’s wonderful that the race not only showcases our country to the world, but also encourages locals and foreigners to give back to the communities that are touched by the ride. It’s extremely gratifying to be part of something so special.”
Of course, local riders will also be participating in the 2016 joBerg2c, including 2014 and 2015 champion, Gawie Combrinck. The South African marathon champion will first have to defend his national title in mid-April, then he’s all systems go for joBerg2c. This year he’ll be riding in the new team colours of NAD Pro MTB alongside new teammate, Nico Bell.
“We’re both looking forward to it,” says Combrinck. “It’s a great event. Tough, but also relaxed and a lot of fun. The organisers put a lot of effort into the trail, and it’s super smooth riding. Last year I had a cracked wrist and managed the ride absolutely perfectly. Highlights for me are definitely Great Wall My China and then the drop into the Umkomaas Valley on Day 8.”