By Quintin van Jaarsveld
A change in venue blew new life into the Halfway Toyota Illovo Sugar Mountain Bike Challenge with a significantly bolstered field of riders participating in the South Coast Hospice fundraiser on Sunday.
The move to popular, picturesque mountain biking location Lake Eland Game Reserve from the Ugu Sports and Leisure Centre attracted 218 riders across the 45km, 25km, 12km and 5km rides – 75 more than the 2014 field, with a total gate of 538 people.
“This event has become an outstanding platform for raising much-needed funds for South Coast Hospice, whilst having a great day out with the family, especially now that the venue has changed to the superb Lake Eland Game Reserve,” said South Coast Hospice fund-raising co-ordinator BT King.
“What’s truly exciting this year is the positive growth in the numbers. Thank you to all the cyclists for pedalling for the patients. Funds raised contribute towards the care of patients on our various programs, and you have all made a difference.
“We at South Coast Hospice are grateful for the wonderful sponsorship we receive from our two main sponsors Halfway Toyota and Illovo Sugar.
“The response from our local business houses with prizes and sponsorship for the event was very generous and cyclists walked away – or cycled away – with some great prizes for their hard efforts, and the track was refreshed by five outstanding water tables.”
King added that the event will be held at Lake Eland again next year and announced that the 2016 edition will include a new Kingfisher Fun 12km walk.
Brennen Anderson won the 45km men’s race in convincing fashion in 1:55:42, over seven minutes ahead of runner-up Grant Langley. Burry Stander Foundation development team rider John Cele completed the podium.
The 45km ladies race was won by Cindy Theunissen (2:13:00), who was joined on the podium by Riana Niehaus and Debrah Thomas.
Late Olympic hero Burry Stander’s father Charles showed no ill effects from his near-fatal accident in February, winning the grand master category and finishing 17th overall in 2:36:32.
Just four seconds separated the top riders in the 25km men’s race with Logan Clarke (1:18:27) pipping Mnduduzo Ndlovu to the title. Nicholas de Bruin followed in third position.
South African sub junior girls champion Megan Bircher continued her good year by winning the 25km ladies race in 1:26:10, Anna Stapleton and Trish Shuttleworth rounding off the podium.
MJ Schoeman (35:08) and Caitlyn Schlehmeyer (35:10) won the 12km races, while Andre Beneke (26:50) and Elsabe Harrison (36:06) took top honours in the 5km races.
The Burry Stander Foundation development team won the event’s team prize while Risk Sure Insurance Brokers won the best water table prize.
Entry increase by the numbers:
45km 45 60
25km 25 92
12km 10 43
5km 20 23