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  1. Hey folks We know plenty of you enjoy spending hours watching the blue dots on the Munga! Our unusual format makes certain aspects and rules difficult to police. Current Covid-19 protocols requires us to be a CSA sanctioned event and thus make use of a Commissaire. However, for obvious reasons, what the comm. can do is limited. When the winner crosses the finish line, the back marker is somewhere near WP4, about 700km back! So, we are looking to maybe 'outsource' part of the marshalling function. What this would involve is simply keeping watch online on certain sections of the route where we know riders often go off track, and then reporting it. This is the basic gist, but we will fine tune it as we go. This forum can probably already think of a few folk who would meet the criteria, which are: 1. Remain neutral in the race 2. Have a good standing on the forum 3. Be prepared to watch the race online and follow the dots 24.7 for a 'shift' over a certain key section. Will these people be paid? We are not yet sure. As a general rule we pay all our volunteers etc, but this is novel and may evolve into a thread where Joe public simply polices the section 24.7. Anyway, I look forward to your comments on the idea and if you are keen to be involved, please pop us a mail at info@themunga.com cheers Alex
  2. Ramrod

    The Munga 2019

    I did search to see if there was already a thread started but didnt find one. Thought we could have a group who want to talk about this years Munga and maybe some of the guys and girls who have done if before can also offer some tips. That being said i would like to find out what saddles most guys are using.
  3. Munga musings from a novice Part 1 of [unsure] Part 2 on post #33 (page 3) Part 3 on post #56 (page 4) The Race on post 121 (page 8) “Men Wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.” Supposedly the text of a recruitment ad placed by Ernst Shackleton when assembling his team for his 1914 South Pole expedition. Those were the days when ships were made from wood and men from steel…and sheep had no reason to be scared. There is a likeness to The Munga. While not months of pain (the world does move faster in the 2000’s) the journey does appear to have its unfair share of hazards – corrugations like the waves of the south seas; enough dirt to fill that big hole in Kimberley; and wind. Not just any wind – this wind is apparently from hell itself. Hot and filled with vengeance it follows you around threatening to boil something. A little like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Last year it rained - in the Karoo. The days get over 50 degrees (not Fahrenheit, the other one) and when all you’ve got is a postage stamp sized buff even the Karoo gets cold at night. You are not assured of finishing: attrition rates are probably the highest of any race on the continent. In the 2016 edition the wind claimed the scalps of twenty percent of the field. Within 100km’s – that’s the first 100km’s. Terrifying stuff really. And, if you finish, you won’t find yourself arriving to thunderous applause from crowds on the grandstand. Nor to a refreshing Woolies branded soft drink and a nice cold towel. Instead, you’ll most likely only be greeted by a chap called Alex, standing next to his bakkie, who absolutely will clap you in. Oh, and you get a medal. If you happen to be the first soul that Alex claps in, you also get a piece of railway line as a trophy. “So, what made you enter?” This is normally asked with a side order of sarcasm and a hint of a chuckle. My response of late has simply been that I’m having a mid-life crisis. People chuckle some more, nod in agreement, and lower my perceived IQ a few points. My pedals stopped turning in anger in March 2010 roughly at the same time I crossed the finish line of my first and last Cape Epic mountain bike race. To be clear, I never raced, I participated. Role forward eight years and I had just clicked the pay button on internet banking – reference “MungaEntryFee”. At that point the longest I’d ridden my bike in one go was about 120km – which I’m sure was one of the stages in the Epic or the Cape Pioneer. I’d certainly never found a need to mount a light onto my bicycle, preferring sunlight to light my way. I’d certainly never had bags of clothing on my bike – the only time clothing has been on my bike was when I hung some over it to dry. Roll forward to October and it’s a little under two months to go until the sun is directly overhead in Bloemfontein and Alex Harris pats us on the bum and gives us all sorts of good wishes, knowing full well that wishes don’t convert into watts. By that point I will probably have done about 5600km in nine months of training. For some perspective, for the three months of December, January and February I totalled 48,5km. Like a good South African politician, a little knowledge can get you far. But a lot of knowledge can just make you **** yourself. To paraphrase US General Rumsfeld (he of Weapons of Mass Destruction fame): “there are known knowns, but there are also unknown unknowns”. As a newbie to endurance cycling and a Munga first timer I can say with a fair amount of precision that I don’t know what I don’t know, and the more I know what I don’t know the more I *** myself. The format The instructions appear easy to follow: be at the start in Bloemfontein for a 12pm start on a Wednesday late in November. Meet you at the finish in the Cape, hopefully before 12pm Monday, but definitely within 1100km. Make sure your phone is charged and you have at least 2.5 litres of water and a space blanket. You are also required to have a light “at the start” of the race. This implies no-one really cares if you do or don’t have it at the end or whether you like riding in the darkness or not. You should have a GPS as the route is not marked, and you must attach the tracking device you are given to yourself. Very importantly, you must check into, and ideally out of, five specific locations on route. If you do the math that puts these checkpoints about 200km apart, give or take of few kilometres. At 15km/h that’s thirteen plus hours of riding in addition to a few rest stops. There are other places to obtain water on route, but that’s about it. There are no stages. No breaks. 1100km, one-time-shoe-shine. And that’s the beauty (I think) of this race. You are treated like an adult. You decide when you stop, whether you sleep or not and whether you give up or not. Do not mistake these checkpoints for a ‘softening’ of the difficulty of the race. You see, at these points you will be beckoned by the alluring call of a warm shower, a spot to get horizontal and some home cooked food. You could even charge your phone and have a swim. There may or may not be a bike mechanic around to help you locate your sense of humour along with your missing seat clamp bolt, for example. These all appear like ‘amenities’ but instead they are designed with a Machiavellian sense of humour by Alex to test your fortitude to continue. Your willpower to continue will be tested five times. Each time you will have to consciously leave the comfort of the checkpoint and exchange it for the pain and discomfort of the next 24 hours of riding. Did I mention five times? Getting from ALPHA to ZULU Unlike Alice in Wonderlands’ yellow brick road the Munga road from the centre of South Africa to the Cape is littered with the aspirations and disappointments of those that started but did not get that final hand clap within the 120-hour time limit. No doubt many of these folks prepared damn hard. There is also no doubt that some didn’t get past having a little knowledge and thought they had it waxed. It appears The Munga does not suffer fools lightly. Through an abundance of luck, I have ended up meeting and riding with several past participants of The Munga. In these few posts I will endeavour to share what I’ve learnt from them to date and pay it forward, so to speak. I also hope to record my own mid-life crisis ramblings so when I’m old and senile my grandchildren will find evidence of my claims of accomplishing the impossible. How hard is hard? Unless you’re Julia Roberts this is the wrong question to ask about The Munga. On the face of it – just using the stats - The Munga looks eminently doable: 1100km. At about 7700m ascent and 9200m descent one could argue its actually downhill. You have 120 hours to do it in. You would not be laughed at if you were left with a quizzical look on your face wondering what all the fuss was about. And therein lies the genius of the course and its founder Alex Harris. Alex has done some hard stuff. Summited the highest mountain on each continent. Led expeditions up both sides of Everest. Walked across the south pole - dragging a 250kg sled. He can also cycle a bit, bagging some medals when he decided to try indoor track cycling and broke the record for the Freedom Challenge. Raced the Tour Divide three times – with his best being an average of 300km a day for 14 days – in a row! The latter is a 4400km race from Canada to Mexico, across some very big mountains. Context matters: If you ask an Australian about cold weather you should not take them seriously – if however, they tell you it’s going to be hot you should listen closely. Similarly, if Alex says it’s hard you should probably start taking notes. To get back to Julia’s question - consider this: in the last two years the winner averaged less than 20km/h moving average. In 2016, the top 10 averaged 17,5km/h. Those are not the speeds you’d expect from a ‘downhill’ route. Clearly, the stats don’t tell the whole story. Truth is, I haven’t figured out what makes it hard. It appears to be an alchemy of road surface, heat, wind, and lack of support that produces something harder than the sum of its individual difficulties. If you talk to Alex he knows what that alchemy produces – but he won’t tell you. Like Golum and those damned rings you will have to chase 1100km down the road to find the answer. I think Alex has figured out through his own experiences that the there is no measure for hardness of the human spirit and this is what I believe he is trying to capture. It is not about whether the Munga is longer; has more climbing; or has more or less support than other races. It is whether you can do it. Everyone I have spoken to from top 3 finishers to ‘just made the 120hour cut off’ don’t talk about their time. To a person they all say the Munga medal is the one they’re most proud of. To a person they say that the experience changed them. And to a person they all left physically broken. I am reminded of the Starbucks (the coffee sponsor for this event) mission statement – “to inspire and nurture the human spirit”. The greatest human endeavours arise from inspired moments and The Munga has all the promise to be one of those moments. (Part 2 is on page 3 - post #33 - further down) (Part 3 is on page 4 - post #56 - further down) Mzansi - 18 October 2018 Not the typical steed for this event: 3” wide black stuff and enough travel to earn you voyager miles. It's like riding my lounge suite and my rear end thanks me continuously. With all the equipment choices this is the slimmest you’ll see her… more on that in a following post. In addition to the main event, Alex arranges eight 'Mini Mungas' during the year. These range from six to twelve hour long rides with fellow participants. It's a great way to increase your options from 20 to 200 and contributes greatly to the move from knowing nothing to knowing enough to *** in your chamois. This was the longest ride I'd ever done. After that only had to figure out how to do that seven times in a row by race day. As part of my mid life crisis I also converted to a low-carb lifestyle in January and fully plan to do the Munga with next-to-no carbs. Just to make it harder, you see. Some stories on how riding without the red ambulance (coke) in a future post. One chap I heard about got such severe saddle sores that he was on antibiotics for a month after the race. That's like losing a limb. If you've never had cause to ask how to lube your arse I suspect that, like me, you've never ridden long enough. The ingredients below are part of a very special recipe, the source of which I cannot disclose, nor the ratios of mixing.
  4. Too early for Munga 2018 discussions? Wondering if riders on past editions found a need for more than the 2.5L of water from the rules. I saw Jeannie Dreyer's mention of 4L in particular. Do others carry this much? 2.5L I can stash on bike, but 4L is heading towards Camelbak territory - which for longer events I prefer to ride without. MOD EDIT: See also here for advice: https://community.bikehub.co.za/topic/179549-munga-2018-race-news/ https://community.bikehub.co.za/topic/179021-munga-musings-from-a-novice-part-123/
  5. Jeannie Dreyer not only won the women's category of The Munga, but finished second overall by a mere thirteen minutes in a field of determined ultra endurance athletes. For those who don't know: The Munga is a 1000 kilometre plus, non-stop race across the heart of the Karoo from Bloemfontein to Wellington, outside Cape Town. We chatted to her about her experience, and to find out what it takes to win a race of this magnitude. Click here to view the article
  6. Not many people would be attracted to a race like the Munga. What drew you to the race in the first place? "The toughest race on earth" ...Am I tough enough? How could I miss the opportunity again to test my all. I think there will definitely be a spike in interest in The Munga next year: how tough is a race when a girl manages a podium position overall? What was your weapon of choice: hardtail, dual suspension or gravel bike, and do you think it was the right call? Still so much debate as to what is the right bike. Maybe I wouldn't be tough enough on a gravel bike? With carrying close on 4 litres of water and with the elevation gain across the duration of the route not being much, weight seemed insignificant to me. It is all very personal really, but for me comfort over 1000km is a no brainer as you know you are going to hurt, you just want to lessen the pain for as long as you can. I can only treat my Cannondale Scalpel like a princess, as she sliced through the relentless headwind, over corrugations and soft sand like dream machine. What sort of training (physically and mentally) do you do for a race of this sort? I think this race for me has been an accumulation of my life happenings and my genetics. My mom always reminds me of the day I came home from nursery school and told her I that I had won a running race AND I beat all the boys. Being a stay at home mom to Callum 6 and Ruby 4, I have thrown all my energy into bringing them up. My 'time-out' is when I exercise and race and so I wholly appreciate when I get time to do it and I just thrive on being able to ride and run, and even more so when I get to do it for more than a day, and non-stop. What was the hardest part of the race for you and how did you deal with it? The almost relentless headwind for the entire three days was mind-blowingly crazy. I mean, Cape Town is downhill from Bloem but there was rarely a moment when we didn't have to pedal to keep moving forward. But as I have said: if it wasn't for the crazy headwind that kept us slightly cool, we might all be lying in the Karoo frazzled to the bone by the searing heat. What was your favourite aspect of The Munga? I LOVED it all! The beauty of the route totally surprised me. The terrain was far more challenging than I expected. Riding into a sunset and again into a new day is so surreal, and such soul food. Meeting the people of the Karoo who open their homes to all us smelly riders, and the support stations with all the helpers that just can't do enough for the participants. Tell us about riding with Heinrich at the front of the race for so long. How did it help you ride as a pair? Did you discuss the inevitability of only one person being able to win? Heinrich and myself criss-crossed paths up until the halfway waterpoint at Pampoenplek (the water station before Loxton). We left from there together. We just plodded on together, me either ahead of him (I didn't want anyone to think I would be drafting him) or on opposite sides of the road. Funny enough we hardly spoke to each other for the 500-odd kilometres we rode together, and I was certainly happy to be entertained by the thoughts in my head, and he seemed much the same- we were a great team when it came to opening and closing gates. We never chatted about the finish line ahead although I am sure we both gave it a little thought. 18km from the support station in Ceres is where the overall race winner was decided. Here we said our farewells as I had to pump my front tire every so often as I made my way to the stop. As we were aware then that Mike Woolnough was rapidly gaining on us it only made sense that Heinrich maintain his lead in the men's category and leave me at the support station to mend my tire. For me, I had exceeded all my expectations and would ride the final 70km stretch as hard as was possible by then, with a little bit of hope that I could catch Heinrich before the finish. However, I do believe the result is as it should be as Heinrich is an excellent descender and would have owned The Munga from the top of Bainskloof, regardless. Will you be back anytime soon? Having had such a radical experience of The Munga, I am sure my husband Martin will be on the start line next year, and maybe it will be the next Dreyer dice. Watch this space.
  7. Not many people would be attracted to a race like the Munga, covering over 1100km nonstop: what drew you to the race in the first place? I have always been attracted to activities that seem impossible to do, at first. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and going far beyond what I know excites me and makes me feel alive. To complete over 1000 kilometres in one go, riding day and night, with as few breaks as possible sounded like a great challenge and something I’ve never done before. I knew I could ride the distance, my 12 000 kilometre journey from Cairo to Cape Town in the Tour de Afrique certainly prepared me well. But the non-stop racing format and inevitable sleep deprivation adds an entire new layer to the challenge of extreme distance travel. Photo Credit: Owen Lloyd What was your weapon of choice: hardtail, dual suspension or gravel bike, and do you think it was the right call? I rode my Specialized S-Works dual suspension. The perfect weapon for the task. The roads were extremely corrugated or sandy. I would have cracked with anything other than a dual suspension. I love riding gravel bikes but for such a long distance, it’s just not the right bike for me. It eats up too much energy since your body must constantly absorb the impact. I would always go with a dual suspension for this kind of racing. What was the hardest part of the race for you? About 30 kilometres into the race I totally blew. It was 44 degrees, we were in altitude, the wind was hauling face on, deep sand and corrugation, and my 2.5 litre water I carried with me was finished. I started too fast and my body wasn’t adjusting to the extreme conditions. I thought this was me ending the Munga before it even started. Suddenly, I found myself in front of a farmer’s truck that served ice-cold water. I took my time, drank as much as I could and tried to recover. I rode slowly on and not long after found my rhythm and strength again.The hardest part of the race for me was the sleep deprivation in combination with the extreme heat and head wind. Your eyes just want to shut and the sun is frying you alive at the same time. It’s a very unpleasant feeling. One tends to slow down a lot. The trick is to push through that wall and keep on pacing, drink lots of coffee and Bioplus. I tend not to over think or plan too much. I knew the distances of the main water points and race villages. That was about it. I had not looked at the profile or the areas we were going through. This approach served me well until I hit the Tankwa section (between Sutherland and Ceres). I had heard that it’s flat and fast and so I thought I will be in Ceres in a few hours. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This section was truly the most testing of the entire trip. We had dropped out of the mountains and ahead was this massive semi-desert basin stretching out forever to the horizon. I had no idea which direction I was going and just followed the navigation on my Garmin.I ran out of water after about 4 hours of riding in blistering heat and had lost count of the kilometres that were left to the next water point. My Garmin had reset itself the night before and so I had to manually count the kilometres. My survival mode kicked in. Totally sleep deprived, exhausted, and dehydrated, it took me a moment to realised that I stood in front of a padstal. I had about 2 litres of coke and ate some of the owner’s food before I continued the suffering. From there it was ‘only’ another 90km to Ceres. A quick ride, the shop owner said. About 20 km down the road, fighting with the angry head wind and baking conditions once more, I was close to crying and questioning for the first time why I had signed up for this. The corrugated road rolled over countless hills for about 40 km before the climbing started into Ceres. By that time, I could not stand as my knees started to hurt badly and I couldn’t sit as my bum was a total mess. I was nauseous from the pain, the exhaustion and dehydration. But I simply carried on as if it was my duty to do so. Arriving in Ceres and then carrying on to Wellington is all left in a blur. To complete the Munga takes much courage, discipline, and a very high pain threshold. You need to be prepared to suffer for long durations. Against all odds, to be able to ride over that finish line feels extremely special and something only a Munga finisher can relate to. Once you are there, you know you can do whatever you put your mind to. What sort of training do you do for a race of this sort? It is certainly not covered by your average marathon race training plan. Most of my training was in lower intensity zones more geared towards endurance. From about August, I started riding more long distances of about 100-150 kilometres at a relatively easy pace and did long slow climbing sessions. I also did a few races like the Pioneer Trek to rev the engine. Photo Credit: Erik Vermuelen Will you be back next year? I don’t think so. There are so many endurance events out there (e.g. Trans America). I prefer to focus on new challenges.
  8. The Munga covers over a thousand kilometres non-stop from Bloemfontein to Wellington, through the heart of the sweltering Karoo. Riders faced soaring temperatures, scorching sun, endless corrugated farm roads, and a 40 kilometre an hour headwind for the majority of the route. Kevin Benkenstein finished fifth overall, after 3 days, 5 hours, and 44 minutes in the saddle. We caught up with him to find out more about the challenge. Click here to view the article
  9. Not many people would be attracted to a race like the Munga. What drew you to the race in the first place? The Munga is one of those "Why would you do that?" races. It is hard to start, let alone finish, and is something no one can really be sure of finishing. I like events like that. On top of that there was the chance to ride my bike for three days seeing our country in the best possible way. I think that is a pretty cool thing to do. What was your weapon of choice: hardtail, dual suspension or gravel bike, and do you think it was the right call? I rode a Specialized S-Works Epic 29 WC. For me that was the perfect choice. I chose wider 2.3 tyres which softened the really rough terrain nicely and had no body-failures, such as a sore back. The only change I would make would be to ride with TT bars for the flats, those seem to make a big difference. What sort of training (physically and mentally) do you do for a race of this kind? I do 16-18hrs a week pretty consistently year round so I didn’t adjust my volume much, other than tapering into the ride. I did do a lot of long efforts in preparation though: 20-60min intervals. I wanted that real endurance strength and that is what works for me when I want to get that. What was the hardest part of the race for you and how did you deal with it? The race was 80% mental, that was definitely the hardest part. Not knowing the route, being alone for 700 kilometres of the ride, dealing with the heat and the fatigue were all really mental challenges. Whenever it got really tough I had to fight my mind to become positive again, as soon as that happened I would become strong. I dealt with that using consistent positive self reinforcement, reminding myself that I have always achieved the challenges that I have set myself and that there was nothing to stop me doing the same this time, other than my mind. What was your favourite aspect of The Munga? The best part was being alone in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere with every star in the sky visible and nothing but the noise of my tyres and breathing for company. I have never felt as at peace as right then. Will you be back anytime soon? Yes, no doubt in my mind. I loved it and can’t wait to go back. The challenge will be different the second time around I am sure, but no less special. I love this race deeply.
  10. RMB Change a Life MTB Academy ace John Ntuli claimed a career defining win at the recent 1070km The Munga mountain bike race from Bloemfontein to Wellington. Photo: Erik Vermeulen. Gracious and humble by nature, Ntuli’s uncanny knack of adapting into a relentless, determined competitor when put under race conditions has fittingly seen the man from KZN’s Valley of a Thousand Hills develop the nickname of ‘Ngwenya’ – isiZulu for crocodile.And call on every ounce of crocodile instinct he had within him Ntuli was forced to do as he redefined his mental and physical boundaries en route to claiming victory in 69 hours and ten minutes. “John's Zulu nickname is Ngwenya, the Crocodile, because he is resilient, tough & powerful. How apt that name now is,” tweeted academy founder and Dusi Canoe Marathon legend Martin Dreyer. Having successfully fought off not only his fellow dogged challengers but treacherous conditions and the event’s mind-numbing distance as well, the result goes to the very top of the pile of achievements for the already highly decorated competitor. “I’ve won a couple of races in my career but this is the biggest race I have ever won!” said Ntuli. “The Munga was such a difficult race because it was so long, it was very hot and dusty, we had to deal with headwinds and side winds all the time and we were in pain throughout, so it really is a rewarding result for me!” he added. With victories in the latest Triple Challenge and recent Maqhwe Mfula multisport races as well having successfully tackled the 369km Desert Dash in Namibia in 2014, Ntuli drew confidence from both his training and strategy prior to Wednesday, 2 December’s race start. All the preparation in the world couldn’t have readied Ntuli for what he was in for though, with the overall experience one that will stay with the RMB Change a Life star forever. “My hands, my arms and my bum were so sore! “I tried everything to get rid of the pain; I took my arm warmers off – and then my shirt as well – and sat on them but nothing helped! John Ntuli's win in the recent 1070km The Munga mountain bike race from Bloemfontein to Wellington further underlined the ethos of Martin Dreyer's RMB Change a Life MTB Academy. Photo: Erik Vermeulen “With about 270km to go I seriously thought about pulling out because I was so sore but eventually I told myself that everyone else was going through the same pain as I was and so I just had to keep going.“I stood and sat, stood and sat all the way to the finish line! “When I finished I was so happy but so tired that when I got off my bike I was just swaying backwards and forwards,” explained Ntuli. Lying second behind Chris van Zyl after the first twenty-four hours of racing, Ntuli went through the halfway point in the lead with Tim Deane after thirty and a half hours. Later relegated to second place, Ntuli surged past race leader Grant Usher whilst heading through the Breede River Valley late on Friday night and ultimately crossed the finish line at Diemersfontein Wine & Country Estate in the Cape Winelands first, over four hours ahead of his nearest chaser. The achievement signifies both Ntuli’s remarkable individual talent and the impact Martin Dreyer’s Change a Life Academy has had on the lives of its members. “Martin (Dreyer) is so experienced and has given me such great advice and support that really helped me win this race and the Change a Life Academy has changed so much in my life as well and I’m very grateful to him for that!” said Ntuli categorically.
  11. John Ntuli’s historic victory at the inaugural 1070km The Munga mountain bike race from Bloemfontein to Wellington on Saturday has reaffirmed his status as one of the finest endurance athletes in the country and further underlining a core ethos behind the RMB Change a Life MTB Academy. Click here to view the article
  12. Johan Badenhorst joined The Munga on a motor bike to document Kevin Benkenstein's journey through the heart of South Africa. Along the way he witnessed the fortunes of many of the leading riders. This is his story of following the 2016 The Munga. Click here to view the article
  13. The Munga was an eye opener to what average people can do when they put their mind to it. Looking at the start list, you would never have picked a sure winner. The challenge itself is incredible, even just to think about it, and to do it within 80 hours is just next level. I rode my motorcycle from Stellenbosch to Bloemfontein on Tuesday morning to support my friend and colleague, Kevin Benkenstein. In my head, I thought the trip would be 670 km, but to my surprise it was just on 1,000 km and took me way longer than expected. The race kicked off at noon on Wednesday and a small number of riders gathered at the Windmill Casino in Bloemfontein for the start. With the total elevation over 1,110km only being 6000m, it was always going to be a fast start. Riders faced 40-degree heat and a massive headwind that seemed to never subside. I rode to the first water point at the 60 odd kilometre mark and waited for their arrival. By my estimate, they would have been there in just over 2 and a bit hours, but time went by and no one showed up. When the first rider appeared it was Jeannie Dreyer and I was completely taken by surprise. I knew she was an amazing adventure racer, but to lead a field of men who had trained hard for this event was next level. I think this race for me has been an accumulation of my life happenings and my genetics. My mom always reminds me of the day I came home from nursery school and said to her that I won a running race AND I beat all the boys. Jeannie Dreyer Next up, four riders appeared together and Kev was one of them. He looked smashed. I could not believe what I was witnessing. After 60 km into a race that would take 80 hours to complete, people are broken at the first water point. How would they finish? Later we found out that a small amount of people never reached the first water point and I was not surprised. This was brutal. From water point one, I leapfrogged the riders and made my way towards one of the Spaza shops (small cafe) that riders were allowed to stop at to buy themselves refreshments. Riders started appearing around 5/6pm and had only done just over 100km. Every single rider that arrived while I was at the shop looked ready to call it quits. The heat played havoc and they still rode into a headwind that I reckon was roughly around 40 km/h. It was a war zone. The roads were mostly straight, dusty, and corrugated. Riders who had tri bars on their bike certainly had an advantage in the conditions. With no shelter next to the road, I made my way to the overnight stop at Van Der Kloof dam and sat down, waiting for the first riders to make an appearance. The heat never subsided and it felt like 30deg at 11pm. One by one they arrived, with hours separating the top 10. Incredible. About 30 kilometres into the race I totally blew. It was 44 degrees, we were in altitude, the wind was hauling face on, deep sand and corrugation, and my 2.5-litre water I carried with me was finished. I started too fast and my body wasn’t adjusting to the extreme conditions. I thought this was me ending the Munga before it even started. Katja Steenkamp After they signed in, they had the option of taking a nap on a bed provided and a shower if they should need one. Most riders opted for a quick meal and got on their way, trying to make the best of the cooler conditions without the sun beating down on them. I was able to source a mattress and tried to get some sleep in a store room of the hotel. It did not really work out, and, after the first day, I was nearly broken myself. Riding a big 1200cc motorcycle at night on gravel roads where you can hardly make out if the surface is hard packed or sand, and with numerous hares trying to become road kill, started to take its toll. The best part was being alone in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere with every star in the sky visible and nothing but the noise of my tyres and breathing for company. I have never felt as at peace as right then. Kevin Benkenstein I got up at first light and tried to catch up with the riders. It would be a long day of leapfrogging and waiting. With gaps now hours between riders, no cell phone coverage and no shade, the days dragged out. Taking a limited number of photos was not inspiring and the grey, dull surrounds did nothing for my confidence. Eventually, I reached Britstown and waited….When Kevin eventually came in, he looked in bad shape. I have never seen him like this before, and I have seen him do a few Everests. He managed to get some food down and indicated that he would go for a sleep. It was roughly 11am. Around 2pm, I started getting nervous. He never mentioned that he wanted to sleep that long. At 3pm he made an appearance and we realised that he missed two of his alarms. The first sign of fatigue. A dropped Garmin caused havoc for around 2 hours. It would simply not switch on. The race is self-navigated and a GPS is crucial to reaching the finish. With a huge amount of luck, the device eventually rebooted, had to be set up again and the ride could go on. Roughly 5 hours longer than anticipated… The sun started to set and driving became hazardous again. I nearly collided with a few small buck and once had to stop dead in the road for a little Bugs Bunny who simply did not want to give way. When I reached Loxton at 11pm that night I was shattered. The kind people offered me a meal and I booked a room with a bed. I tried to get some sleep. Kevin arrived at 4am and left at 6am. I missed him. Not ideal with the limited opportunities to get a variety of content. With only a few farmers allowing cyclist access, it meant that I had to skip big parts of the trip at certain times. Waiting at Rv3, it was Jeannie and Heinrich who arrived first. They have only slept around 90 minutes at this point and decide to take a quick 20 min power nap. Mike arrived and decided to take a nap on a bed before heading out again. The heat got up to around 35deg and people were suffering. Riders could access water reservoirs next to the road which became a life saver on many occasions. We made our way to Sutherland and the time went by slowly. Most riders took some time to nap. Jeannie and Heinrich managed to descend Ouberg pass in daylight which gave them a massive advantage. From there we made our way to Tankwa padstal on roads that would drive anyone batty. Straight… dusty… corrugated. The day came to an end in Wellington and I was relieved to see my mate finish his challenge and achieve a goal. I must admit, I have never seen one human put up a smile every single time he was in company. Just have a look at the latest cover of Ride Magazine if you want to see what I am talking about. I was broken. The riders were smashed. I don't see myself ever doing this event. It is brutal. Congratulations to every single one of the riders that finished: you are truly special. The only problem for me now is: I can never not finish a ride, or complain that it is too long or too hot or too windy. I cannot unsee what I have seen. I have a new perspective on cycling.
  14. With over 1000km between the start in Bloemfontein and the finish in Wellington, riders charge on through the day and night non-stop, resting when they want to while passing through a number of compulsory checkpoints during their journey to the Western Cape. RMB Change a Life Academy's Sthembiso Masango showed his incredible endurance skills when he completed the gruelling 1000km Munga in sixth place overall and first development rider. Erik Vermeulen/ AdventurePhotos Following in former Academy veteran John Ntuli’s footsteps, who won the overall title in 2015, the Change a Life duo’s effort saw the Valley of Thousand Hills setup’s flag continue to fly high this year. “When they asked John for advice, he basically just told them that their backsides would get very sore!” quipped Change a Life Academy founder Martin Dreyer. “It was an incredible effort from the guys and awesome for them to be rewarded with a podium finish. “The race is more like an adventure challenge than a mountain biking race, with the guys using the 36ONE MTB Challenge earlier in the year to give them some sort of an idea on how to go about it.” The race’s non-stop, rest when you want approach made it difficult for the Change a Life pair to pace their race and Masango went out the hardest, finding himself in the lead at night fall on the first day. However a mechanical, that would plague him throughout the race, meant that he hit a rough patch mentally at that point. “Sthembiso was flying and at about 180km into the race his back wheel buckled. This meant that he had to limp his way into the first race village in Britstown. “Losing three hours on the leaders, he was ready to call it a day. We chatted, where I told him everyone goes through tough times in a big race like this and it’s how you deal with it that counts. You cannot give up. Adversity is the breakfast of Champions!” “After a good rest, a switch flicked in his head and he was off, riding like there was no tomorrow, making his way up the rankings! “He had another issue with his back tyre coming into the fourth race village in Sutherland around the 700km mark, fortunately here they managed to fix it properly. “From there he didn’t look back and powered to fifth over the line but was given a thirty minute penalty for not signing in at the race village in Loxton, but that luckily didn’t change the results,” Dreyer added. RMB Change a Life's Mazwi Smimango finished the gruelling 1000km Munga from Bloemfontein to Stellenbosch in just under four days placing him 16th overall and third in the development category. Supplied/ Gameplan Media This meant that Masango would take the development prize with team mate Smimango taking third place in that same category. “Mazwi went through similar mental challenges as Sthembiso; he wanted to call it quits too when he wasn’t feeling great with diarrhoea issues at the second race village. I told him to take as much time as he needed to recover. “After sleeping for six hours he was back on his bike and powered home to third in his division,” a proud Dreyer added. With incredibly adverse conditions to deal with as well as the unknown physical fatigue, Dreyer praised the mental strength of the pair to not only get through the race but feature so prominently as well. “The guys showed phenomenal tenacity in the face of hardship to get through such a difficult race where riders battled with tough head winds, extreme heat as well as nose bleeds. “We need to do a post-race analysis and look at where mistakes were made and what we can improve upon. But right now, the RMB CAL Zulus are resting with their feet up and the biggest grins of satisfaction on their faces, knowing the hardest race of their lives is thankfully over, until next year that is,” Dreyer added.
  15. The Martin Dreyer RMB Change a Life MTB Academy pair of Sthembiso Masango and Mazwi Smimango stepped into the unknown at the recent 2016 Munga, however the pair rode beyond themselves in the face of adversity to finish first and third in the development category at the gruelling non-stop mountain bike race. Click here to view the article
  16. What a ride! It is not just the culmination of five frenetic days of racing, but of years of planning and dreaming. Often we attribute the genesis of an idea to a single moment in time, or a specific event. But that's not the case with the Munga. Days, weeks spent on the bike on lonely trails, misty mornings, high up in forgotten country, wondering, sometimes doubting, but in the end believing. My excitement was not just for John Ntuli from the #Change A Life Academy who came over the line first, 9 hours after my predicted winning time, but also for the two Wim’s who rolled in 90 mins before the five day cut-off. John was the recipient of the “Directors Cut’ entry, the person who most personified what the Munga stands for. So for him to win the inaugural race was incredibly thrilling. I shared in their plight, the anguish, the toil in the midday sun, scorching wind, and endless bumpy roads. To see them leave each day in the early hours and push through every type of pain confirmed once again how indomitable the human spirit is. When given the right mix of compelling ingredients, and motivating moments, people will dig deeper than ever before. They will find something else, a little bit more, somewhere, and keep going. This is what the Munga ultimately is about. To the 32 riders who made it to the end, I salute you! You personify the best that is human. You stand as a beacon to the discouraged that anything is possible. In you, random people found new heroes. In a strange kind of way, your journey might just have been the spark to begin their own.Thank you for digging deep! Alex Harris
  17. It’s done. The morning after the inaugural Munga, I am feeling exhausted, somewhat relieved but thrilled! Click here to view the article
  18. “The Munga offers more than just a race, it’s a test against the toughest of external elements – and today we face one of the race’s toughest challenges, having to postpone the event to 2015, as one of our key investors has withdrawn,” says Alex Harris, renowned explorer, athlete, founder of Xplore Authentic Experiences and Race Director of The Munga. “The vision of The Munga remains clear; to create a global platform where we completely challenge the norm and format of endurance racing and the individuals’ perception of what is possible. Given the integrity of our brand and partners, we have taken the decision to postpone the race to 2015 with immediate effect. “The amount of local and global interest in The Munga has been phenomenal and we are so excited and honoured to be at the forefront of making endurance and mountain bike racing history,” concludes Harris. “The Munga Dream has not changed and is just getting stronger”.
  19. The Munga, a 1000km, single-stage mountain bike race is disappointed to announce that its inaugural race, set for 3 December 2014 across the Karoo in South Africa, has been postponed. Click here to view the article
  20. Five months after it was launched, the TREAD Buffalo Category, a new weight division for premium South African mountain bike races, has gained significant popularity and will now also be included in the inaugural edition of The Munga, which takes place in South Africa from 3-8 December 2014. Click here to view the article
  21. In order to be classified for the TREAD Buffalo Category at official partner events, riders need to weigh at least 90kg. For two-rider team events, which is the format used at most South African stage races, the combined minimum weight for the team must be 180kg. The new weight division, which includes its own podium ceremony and prizes for riders who would never have had a real racing incentive before, will now form part of The Munga, a 1000-kilometre single-stage race from Bloemfontein to Waterford Wine Estate, Stellenbosch. To celebrate the inclusion of a TREAD Buffalo Category at The Munga, the organisers have made one The Munga entry available to the top TREAD Buffalo Category team at next week’s Isuzu Trucks PE-Plett four-day stage race. At a cost of US$10 000 (about R100 000) entries for The Munga are highly coveted. “We’re stoked to have The Munga on board as a premium partner event for our TREAD Buffalo Category,” said Sean Badenhorst of TREAD – Mountain Biking With Soul, the company that owns and manages the TREAD Buffalo Category. “We only consider high-quality mountain bike events that offer a serious challenge to the participants for our TREAD Buffalo Category. When the organisers of The Munga asked for partner status, we saw an immediate synergy.” “We feel that it won’t only be the stereotypical super-lean, feather-light athletes lining up to tackle The Munga. There are many super-strong bigger riders that will be grinding their way across the Karoo that will give the slim riders a real challenge. But now there’s also another incentive for bigger guys (and girls) to enter The Munga,” said Alex Harris, The Munga Race Director. Harris confirmed that the winning team in the TREAD Buffalo Category at the 2014 The Munga would also receive a free entry into the 2015 The Munga as part of the weight-division category prize. “We’ve chosen the Isuzu Trucks PE-Plett event to give away that The Munga TREAD Buffalo entry for two reasons: Firstly, the PE-Plett is one of the tougher stage races there is. And with The Munga claiming to be ‘The Toughest Race on Earth’, we feel it’s appropriate. The other reason is that in order to be conditioned for The Munga in early December, you need already be in fairly good endurance condition now and those who are racing strongly at PE-Plett fit right in,” explained Badenhorst. The Munga, which has a five-day time limit for it’s 1000-plus kilometres, is offering a prize purse of US$1 million, by far the biggest prize in any global endurance event that’s open to anyone. It has already attracted more than 130 team entries (riders will compete as pairs) from around the world and is expected to achieve more than 400 team entries by the entry closing date on 31 October 2014. The TREAD Buffalo Category has already been successfully incorporated into the following premium mountain bike events in 2014:Old Mutual joBerg2c (Gauteng-Free State-KZN) Nedbank Sani2c (KZN) FNB Magalies Monster (North West) RECM Knysna 200 (Western Cape) BSi Steel Dusi2c (KZN) 36ONE Storms River Traverse (Western Cape) Remaining events incorporating the first year of the TREAD Buffalo Category are: 2014 Isuzu Trucks PE-Plett (Western Cape-Eastern Cape) Pennypinchers Dr Evil Classic (Western Cape) Resolution Health Ride the Rhino (Western Cape) Mankele Three Towers (Mpumalanga) FedGroup Berg & Bush (KZN) Mount Grace Magalies Adventure (Gauteng) The Munga (Free State-Eastern Cape-Western Cape) 2015 Garden Route 300 (Western Cape) TransCape MTB (Western Cape) Bridgestone Route 66 (Gauteng) Cradle Mountain Trophy (Gauteng) Lowveld Quest (Mpumalanga) For more on the TREAD Buffalo Category, or to register (it’s free), visit www.treadbuffalo.co.za. For more on The Munga, visit www.themunga.com.
  22. Organisers of The Munga, the new single-stage 1000-kilometre mountain bike race in South Africa, have decided to limit the number of teams to 450 for the inaugural edition, which takes place from 3-8 December 2014. Click here to view the article
  23. Since its launch on 22 May, global interest in the event has been significant, largely due to the guaranteed US $1 million dollar prize purse, the richest podium payout in endurance sport. But the organisers want the race experience for all teams, regardless of their finishing position, to be of the highest quality, which has led to the entry number limit. “We want every participant to savour every moment of The Munga. And in order to ensure a memorable experience, we have decided that 900 riders (450) teams is the optimal number for the first edition,” said Alex Harris, The Munga Founder and Race Director. “We are promoting The Munga as being ‘unsupported’, but this simply means no outside seconding for any teams. Our five race villages, situated roughly every 150-180 kilometres, will offer comprehensive catering for the participants and we want to ensure this is of a high quality. By limiting the numbers we can guarantee a premium experience,” added Harris. The top three teams to finish The Munga will share US$900 000 with the other US$100 000 being offered as the ‘Underdog’ prize, a lucky draw reward open to all teams that finish outside the top three and within the five-day cut-off limit. “Since the launch, we’ve been inundated with enquiries, many of which have resulted in entries from athletes from around the world. We’ve noticed it’s not only mountain bikers, but also triathletes and road cyclists,” said Harris. “The big challenge for many so far seems to be to find a well-matched partner. “This match-up is obviously crucial as the race, even to beat the five-day cut-off, will demand a combination of sleep deprivation and deep levels of physical, mental and emotional strain, all of which can break you down and challenge you beyond what you’ve experienced before. Food, drinks and other comforts will be in generous supply at our race villages and we want to ensure that no competitor has to wait long for anything that he or she needs or wants on arrival,” explained Harris. Two entries to The Munga will be given at the 2014 UCI Marathon World Championships event in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa next week. The winner of the Elite women’s race will earn one entry, while the other will be given as a lucky draw prize to one of the finishers of the Rainbow Challenge, the Marathon World Championships equivalent for amateur master category riders (aged 30 and older) that will be held the day prior to the Elite World Championships at the same venue. For more information on The Munga or to enter, visit www.themunga.com. Also, Like ‘The Munga’ on Facebook and follow @TheMungaMTB on twitter. For videos on the event, search for ‘The Munga’ on youtube.com.
  24. The Munga - a 1000km, single-stage race will elevate the sport of mountain biking (MTB) by giving these sports enthusiasts a prize to be excited about – one that has never been offered before! “The Munga offers more than just a race, it’s a test against the toughest of external elements and against the human body, but most importantly, it’s a game changer,” says Alex Harris, renowned explorer, athlete, founder of Xplore Authentic Experiences and Race Director of The Munga. “With The Munga’s prize money significantly more that of current event prizes, it is a massive leap for the sport and one that we hope will bring greater recognition to the sport and to the racer in all of us.” In a first for the world, The Munga has introduced a two-person team, single stage mountain bike race that will take place from the 3rd of December 2014. The intense, 1000km route for The Munga’s inaugural race will start in Bloemfontein, leading riders through vast distances across the Karoo, and conclude at the finish line at the Waterford Wine Estate, in the heart of Stellenbosch. The route has been designed to combine endurance, experience and strategy to satisfy those riding enthusiasts looking for a compelling story. It is set to take riders through some of South Africa’s lesser travelled paths - a trail that showcases South Africa’s remoteness – while testing the strongest of wills. “The world is not short of tough things to do. It’s short of tough people willing to tackle tough things. And this is set to be one of the toughest races on earth. Do you have what it takes to compete in The Munga and win your share of a million dollars?” concludes Harris. Read more about the event at www.themunga.com
  25. Yesterday, the world of mountain biking and endurance racing was flipped on its head - when the world’s toughest, most demanding - yet most rewarding - mountain bike race was launched. Click here to view the article
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