At 12 Noon today, High Noon in Western movie terms, 105 riders set off on the challenge of a lifetime, facing up to a 1070km course that they’ll need to complete in under 120 hours to claim a coveted Munga Medal.
Weather conditions certainly are not as tough off the line as they were in 2016, and a lead group of 14 riders are about 2km off the front after an hour of racing.
No other race comes close to providing a format that is as challenging, authentic, compelling and unpredictable as the Munga is. Apart from sleep deprivation, temperatures into the high 40’s (Celcius) and relentless rutted roads and terrain, each rider will have to conquer their own internal fears, doubts and demons. But waiting at the end is a handcrafted medal with their finisher number.
Only two athletes have a complete set of Munga medals – two MTB and one Trail medal – and at the end of this edition of the MTB race it could be down to only 1 as Riaan Potgieter lines up to get 3 out of 3 MTB medals along with Mike Woolnough, the 57 year-old who finished 3rd overall in 2016.
In a small ladies’ field, racing looks set to be dominated by ultra-endurance athlete Jeannie Dreyer (Bomford) who looks ripped and raring to race to secure a second ladies’ victory after finishing second overall in 2016. She’ll be looking over her shoulder though for riders with a strong endurance caliber such as Tracey Campbell (Skyrun Winner 2017) and Janine Stewart, who was part of the team that set a Kilimanjaro Summit to Sea record of under 24hours in February of this year.
In the Development Category, Change a Life Academy rider and defending champion, Sthembiso Masango leads a hotly contested field in which inches are never given.
Riders can be tracked live at https://mtb.themunga.com/what/tracking and all race updates will be available on the Race Facebook Page, https://www.facebook.com/TheMungaMTB/?ref=bookmarks
The winners are expected at Diemersfontein around late morning on Saturday 2nd December.
About The Munga
Endurance athlete and explorer, Alex Harris, has taken on some of the toughest and craziest adventures around the world. It is from that experience that The Munga was born. The Munga is a 1000km, single stage mountain bike race across the middle of South Africa in the heat of summer. These races were inspired by hardship and difficulty, because it is only through adversity that we truly come to terms with who we really are.
The Munga is not your average bicycle event. It's a crazy, single stage mountain bike race across some of the toughest terrain south of the equator. A 1000 kilometre rush from Bloemfontein to Wellington in the middle of the South African summer.
The Munga was created in 2014 by adventurer Alex Harris. The dream was always to create a race with a huge reward, and this it still the ultimate goal. The first Munga took place in December 2015 and was a massive success. Since the inaugural race, the Munga has grown from strength to strength. New sponsors have joined the team, new riders have completed (and not completed) the mad journey. This year, Alex is participating in The Munga.
The Munga runs over a little more than 1000 kilometres. There are 5 race villages where riders can rest, eat and get mechanical assistance. There are also a number of water points placed between 50 and 60 kilometres apart. The race is semi-supported meaning that riders will be provided with support from race officials and at race villages, but will not be permitted to have support along the route. Everything a rider needs must be taken along, or bought along the way. Everything needed must be carried on the bike.
The Munga series is a celebration of the human spirit. A celebration of what we are actually capable of.
The Munga is currently taking place.