Bicycling (South Africa) - - STORIES -

Marco Martins from Por­tu­gal greeted us at with glee at reg­is­tra­tion, and then dropped the bomb­shell that he would be aim­ing for a sub-60-hour time. Know­ing the vari­ables, I was scep­ti­cal; but I ap­plauded his de­ter­mi­na­tion – es­pe­cially since he’d never been to SA, and had no idea what lay ahead. I’ve seen some of the tough­est rid­ers I know suc­cumb to The Munga.

When we first called it the ‘ Tough­est Race On Earth’, the rid­ing com­mu­nity baulked – there are longer races, races with much more ver­ti­cal gain, races with more ex­tremes in tem­per­a­ture... But what makes The Munga tough is the com­bi­na­tion of all the fac­tors.

As a pho­tog­ra­pher, I’ve seen many gri­mac­ing faces in many races across the world; but keep­ing up with Marco as he set a blis­ter­ing pace across the Ka­roo pro­duced one of my most iconic ‘gri­mace’ im­ages. He knew I was there – I was ly­ing sprawled across the road – and he couldn’t muster even the hint of a smile. He was leav­ing ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing on the roads and tracks of the Ka­roo.

At this point, I also knew that one of two things would hap­pen. Ei­ther he would im­plode spec­tac­u­larly, or we were look­ing at a new record. It was the lat­ter.

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