The sani2c mountain bike race, presented by BoE Private Clients, is blazing new trails for community development in rural KwaZulu-Natal with the addition of a third event.

According to organiser Glen Haw, the three-day stage race from Underberg to Scottburgh was first held in 2005 but demand for entries grew to such an extent that a second event, the sani2c Adventure, was introduced four years ago.

This year a third leg, the sani2c Trail, has been added. “Never in my wildest dreams did I expect sani2c to grow to this extent.

“So many people have contributed to its popularity; from the farmers and their wives to sponsors, riders and the locals who help build the trails.”

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The communities who run the sani2c race villages as an annual fundraiser are benefitting from the addition of a third event this year. Photo: Kelvin Trautman

Haw said the event was founded on a development model that saw communities along the route being paid to run the two race villages, at Jolivet Farm near Ixopo and Mackenzie Club in the Highflats region, as well as the start and finish venues at Underberg and Scottburgh schools respectively.

Last year, 23 community organisations benefitted from the R5.2 million that was raised and Haw estimated a further 33 per cent increase in 2012.

He said the new Trail not only allowed the event to accommodate more participants but also empowered communities by helping them generate more income.

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The sani2c mountain bike race, presented by BoE Private Clients, is blazing new trails for community development in rural KwaZulu-Natal with the addition of a third event. Photo: Jon Ivins

“Basically, each village is fully set up and all the hard work is done. We just need to run for a few extra days with a few extra suppliers.”

Haw said the biggest challenge for local farmers was to open up their lands on three separate days.

“It obviously impacts farming activities, but they have seen the benefit for their communities so they were generally keen to go ahead.”

Some of the projects enabled by the financial injection include fee subsidies, bursary funds and upgrading of facilities at various schools, a rural security and policing fund as well as an endangered Oribi relocation programme.

In addition, there were many ongoing job creation opportunities, said Haw.

“Throughout the year, we employ local labour in route development as well as for our tree planting initiative.

“We’re also building sidewalks along the route to ensure the safety of competitors during the event and pedestrians throughout the year.

“This is an ongoing five-year project where we will spend over R300 000 a year and employ local people.”

Aside from 18 permanent jobs created, organisers also employed approximately 40 temporary staff in the three-month lead-up to the event, he said.

The development model was based on giving people a hand up, not a handout, said Haw, and everyone involved had to perform to a certain standard in order to maintain the quality and integrity of the event.

“For each of the Race, Adventure and Trail, there is a core team of 125,” said Haw. “It’s difficult to estimate but the total manpower involved would probably be closer to 2 000.”

This year, the event kicks off with the Trail (May 15 to 17), followed by the Adventure (May 16 to 18) and the Race (May 17 to 19).

Visit www.sani2c.co.za or www.boeprivateclients.co.za for more info. Also like sani2c on Facebook or follow sani2c_scoop on Twitter.