Reasons, Racing And Records
It’s a tour, but not the Tour De France. It’s epic… but not the Cape Epic. It’s 1 000km of hard riding from Bloemfontein to Wellington, with five days to finish and no obligation to eat or sleep. It’s The Munga, and this is what it looks like: the grittiest pics of some of the toughest cyclists in the world.
It’s billed as the toughest race on earth; and at 1 000km, The Munga MTB is fast becoming the bucket-list event of the ultra-endurance world. The race’s organiser and photographer - who has been there for all three of the events since the race’s inception – captures the mood and excitement from the 2017 event.
For the first time we had a field of over 100 entrants, with international riders from Portugal, France, Mauritius, Namibia and the UK. Last year we had a rider from New Zealand, who was completely flabbergasted that we actually farm sheep in the desolate and arid Karoo! The start is always filled with tension and apprehension – whether you’re in it to win it, or for your own reasons of selfdiscovery and testing your mettle. That’s what makes The Munga such a unique event; every rider comes to the race for their own reasons – and I’ve seen those reasons change over the course of the race, and even over the course of an afternoon.
We get more and more riders asking us for permission to use our logo. We don’t mind, because it allows each rider to express their own philosophy and reason for becoming ‘ Mungrels’. Riders are building their own lexicon as part of the history of the race.
After a sunny start, inside the first hour the weather turned, and riders raced through gusty winds and dust storms – eliciting fears for a repeat of 2016, when an incessant headwind decimated the field before waterpoint 1. But in 2017, the wind soon abated.
SHADY DEALERS //
The Munga is billed as a self- supported ride; but of course, as organisers we do provide five race villages and 10 water points stocked with snacks, PowerBar products, and water.
Riders can also make use of any infrastructure they come across on the route. Like the Steunmekaar, about 100km into the race – this little shop, with its cool cement porch, is a firm favourite; and the ladies who run it look forward to the stampede of thirsty riders smashing their supply of Clover Super M chocolate milk.
BRIDGING TECHNIQUE //
Most of the riders will see less than half of the route in daylight, missing out on an amazing part of South Africa. Our reasons for the routing is not simply because it’s remote, but because the Karoo seems to be largely overlooked by travellers. There are gems here. The people. The farms. The architecture and bridges. It awakens something in your soul that – despite the desolation – leaves your soul filled.