Madiba, as he will always be so fondly remembered, crept into the hearts of every South African particularly with his wonderful endorsement of all sports. In celebration and recognition of this great man, the country’s mountain biking fraternity is getting ready for the second Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash, which will take place on at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday 29 August 2015.
Brendon Davids, who races for South Africa’s UCI-registered mountain bike team, Kargo Pro MTB, will be on the start line for his first Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash this year.
Being a young South African sportsperson in a time of democracy, Davids recognises that the opportunities of being able to compete nationally and internationally are greatly owed to Nelson Mandela himself.
“I think to be able to compete on such a day is special to many people. But personally, to honour the man who helped us, as South Africans, to compete on the world stage as well as uniting a nation through sport in very difficult times is definitely something very special.”
While Davids will be joining several other professional riders competing for a part of the magnificent total prize purse of R120000 on offer, the routes and trails also ensure that there is something for everyone, and the importance of family participation in sport is most certainly embraced on the day.
“To remember Nelson Mandela at the site of his capture in the beautiful KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, how could you not want to make a day out of it? I feel that having more people to interact with on such a special occasion would help all to socialise and unite - what better way to honour Madiba himself?” said Davids.
The main mountain bike race isn’t easy though, and there are sections on the course that are challenging, and through hard work and perseverance, the riders will finish with triumph and pride. This message of triumph through struggles and challenges is a diluted version of that of the life of Nelson Mandela that is resonated throughout the race. As a professional cyclist, Davids shares one of his stories of personal challenge:
“There are many such cases for all athletes across every level of ability and competitiveness. Each race in itself is a “mini story”. One that particularly comes to mind for me is my participation in the World Championships on home soil in Pietermaritzburg in 2013. After being caught behind a crash on the start I was almost in last place mid way through the first lap. One by one I moved up through the field before finding myself battling for 15th in the closing moments of the race. I unfortunately dislocated my shoulder with a few hundred meters to go in a big crash, which saw me finish just outside the top 15. But most importantly, it was testament to the human spirit - how much you can achieve if you truly set your mind to it. It was a special day having friends and family losing their minds next to the track.”
Kargo Pro MTB Team manager, Shaun Peschl said: “Unfortunately, because the calendars are overlapped, most of our team will be in Europe for World Champs, otherwise, they would’ve all been on the start line. Brendon (Davids), however, will be representing us all at the race.
“We always try our hardest to be at events like this, it means a lot to us and the nation. It would be great to try and defend the title and keep a win in the team, but it’s not about that at all. Although a win would be nice, we don't there to win. To just be part of the event in honour the great Madiba is enough," Peschl concluded.
Winner of the 2014 Men’s race, Travis Walker (Team Full Dynamix) shared his feelings about competing in last year’s event.
“With it being the first race of it’s kind, I found that it was very well organised and well supported. It is great that the race is in that area as well – the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands has some of the best riding trails. There’s also lots to do there off the bike as well, and the area has something to offer the whole family,” he said.
“To be able to celebrate South Africa’s greatest icon whilst doing what I enjoy is a big plus. The importance of the Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash, I feel, is to keep the legacy of Madiba living, and to educate the younger generations of his achievements through sport.”
Walker will not be competing in this year’s event due to his racing commitments in Italy.
Online pre-entries for the Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash are open, and close on Wednesday 26 August. Late entries will be accepted at registration, which is at Greg Minnaar Cycles, Town Bush Road, Pietermaritzburg from 12:00-17:00 on 28 August, and at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site from 06:30-08:00 on race day, 29 August.
For information on the 2015 Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash, visit the official website – http://www.mandelamarathon.co.za/