Saturday, 6 September 2014

Let The Munga show begin.

The Munga, a non-stop race from Bloemfontein to Stellenbosch approx 1000km, through the Karoo mid summer. Teams of 2. Daily cut offs and US$1 Million in prize money. A race conceived and presented by Alex Harris. The race has its genesis in an obscure corner of Alex Harris's cerebral cortex probably as a result of an overload of intertwined decades long extreme adventuring experiences. Alex is no ordinary adventurer and The Munga will be no ordinary race. I am teamed up with Tread Magazine editor Sean Badenhorst.

A few years ago over a cup off coffee Alex casually mentioned the concept of a race with a big purse that would change the face of endurance riding as we know it. We are both Freedom Challenge Race Across South Africa veterans with 3 finishing blankets apiece. Alex has managed 2 wins and a second place while I have managed to roll through the finish in 7th place on my first two attempts and 5th on my last. Alex is gnarly while I am your average mountain biker. One thing we have in common is the experience of suffering on a bike. It just takes a lot more effort on his part to get into the suffer zone.

Having set his sights on a big purse ride he tried and failed to secure consent to race the length of the Sishen-Saldanha Bay iron ore railway line. His plan for The Ironmonger race were scuppered. Undeterred he dropped the "Iron" and morphed the "monger" into "Munga" to create a name that will in time epitomise the ultimate mountain biking vasbyt challenge.

Alex has come up with a race concept that draws on his personal experiences in conventional stage races as well as the Freedom Challenge and Tour Divide. Evident in his race model is the need for serious grit. The off bike pampering that is typical of the well healed or professional multi day stage racer will not be a part of The Munga. Equally, 12 hours a day of slow grinding that will see you finish the Freedom Challenge or Tour Divide will be hopelessly inadequate in Alex's race format.

What makes it tough are the conditions and time constraints. Routing from Bloemfontein to Stellenbosch over 1000 Km's the terrain won't be a serious issue but the heat will certainly present a challenge. The Karoo is a desert and a hot one at that. The race timing will ensure the challenge of desert heat will have full effect. Regular cut offs will force riders to push on relentlessly or face disqualification. The race distance will require riders to complete at least 200 Km's per day. Anything less will be a sub par performance and result in an early bus trip home.
There are many challenges that competitors need to gear up for. Heat and hydration easily come to mind. Riding in the cold requires an extra layer or two. Heat is not about a layer or two less. You need to protect yourself from the suns rays and be able to tolerate the heat. That tolerance only comes from physiological adaption. You need to train in the heat to get used to it.
To be continued....