By Quintin van Jaarsveld
A possible new South Coast-based mountain biking and trail running series could be a major boon for the region from a sports and tourism standpoint.
The proposed ‘South Coast MTB/Trail Running Series’ would be similar to the Big5 MTB Series, a successful annual Zululand series, in that it would combine the five major local events into a signature series with national appeal.
The five-round series would stretch from July to October and consist of the Burry Stander Sardine MTB Classic (4-5 July, Port Edward), Ingeli MTB Classic (26 July, Harding), Scottburgh MTB Challenge (9 September), Lake Eland Quattro Classic (27 September, Lake Eland) and the inaugural Wild Coast Sun Experience (date TBC, Wild Coast).
It is hoped that such a series would serve as a promotional tool of and financial boost for the lower South Coast, One-Way Productions event co-ordinator Mark Thornton-Smith, one of the visionaries behind the concept, told eHowzit.
“The series has been developed to have a bigger impact in the sporting community and provide larger exposure to the South Coast,” explained Thornton-Smith.
“It’s a community project aimed to benefit everyone involved; South Coast clubs, athletes, businesses and tourism.
“The series will seek to promote these sports on the South Coast on a national scale, attract more holiday-makers and showcase the South Coast’s beautiful scenery, accommodation venues and sport/adventure activities.
“Instead of focusing on each individual event, which is currently the case, the series will allow for not only each event but the South Coast as a whole to be promoted.
“It’s already working on the North Coast and there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t also work on the South Coast.
The idea materialised at a recent meeting attended by – among others – One-Way Productions, ROAG officials and local businessman and mountain bike enthusiast Andrew Ramos.
“Mountain biking and trail running are among the fastest if not the fastest growing sports in the country and our view is ‘why should the South Coast miss out on this phenomenon?’”
Thornton-Smith added: “Our mission is to provide support and consistency to the events in the series and attract more sponsors, bigger prizes and more participants.
“The series’ objectives include the establishment of a consistent 500 to 1000 entries to each event and a points system where pro cyclists are eligible to win large amounts of prize money, while also increasing the number of in ‘bums in beds’, area exposure and marketing, an extended duration of stay and a 20 percent boost in participation.
“We’re very much in the teething stages and we’re well aware that it will potentially take a few years to really fulfil our goal of putting the South Coast and this signature series on the map, but we believe in this concept and with the right support, we’re confident the series will take things to the next level.”
At this early stage, sponsorship is the missing piece of the puzzle.
Companies/brands interested in getting involved in the project can contact Thornton-Smith on 084 550 4138 or [email protected]