Hundreds of MTB riders and supporters are heading for Bekker School in Gauteng for the eagerly anticipated finals of the Spur Schools MTB league. The league recorded stratospheric growth during the 2015 season and organisers are expecting a tough battle as schools compete for league supremacy and the coveted championship title.
400 Competitors representing 40 schools from across the country will hit the tracks on Saturday, 3 October, to tackle the Olympic-style cross country race set against the scenic backdrop of the Magalies mountains. The contest will see male and female riders competing in four different age groups in timed laps.
The league is a joint initiative between Spur Steak Ranches and trail advocacy group Amarider to promote mountain biking as a sport discipline at school level and to engage with South African youth. Since its humble beginnings with approximately 900 riders in 2009, the league has grown beyond expectations and featured 40 events, 400 schools and 10 000 MTB enthusiasts competing nationwide.
According to league organiser Meurant Botha, they are eagerly expecting the action-packed finals. “Spectators are guaranteed to see some adrenaline-pumping action and the level of skills exhibited by these riders is absolutely awesome. If you review the performance levels of these kids based on achieved lap times over the past couple of years, it augers well for the future of mountain biking in this country. The enthusiasm of the kids is absolutely palpable and lends a hugely festive atmosphere to the event. The participating schools also need to be applauded for the support they show for the league and its various events as well as the individual team members.”
On Saturday the schools will go head to head with the top 26 riders in each category scoring points for their team in an effort to secure podium positions. Sunday will see riders competing in provincial colours with teams comprising the top riders in each province to crown the 2015 provincial champions. Gauteng is defending champion.
“The league’s mission also entails the expansion of the mountain bike footprint across South Africa. In order to accomplish this, the league actively promotes and assists with the establishment of new tracks at schools. A total of 10 tracks have been successfully constructed since the inception of the league making the sport even more accessible.”
The Spur Schools Mountain Bike league facilitated various rider development programmes, has seen a definite increase in the number of female riders as well as logged an increased number of primary schools supporting the league.
Botha further stated that it was particularly encouraging to see the increasing number of schools that have adopted mountain biking as an official school sport. This move has been instrumental in the establishment South African Schools Cycling (SASC) headed up by Deon Steyn, as national governing body of the sport.
The success of the league is driven by a strong network of regional co-ordinators, who take care of local events as well as increased involvement from schools. Defending provincial champions, Gauteng drew the most participants this season and with more than 80 schools and an average of 700 riders per event, has become the biggest XCO series in Africa.
The core value of the Spur Group embraces the spirit of generosity and Ubuntu and aims to uplift the lives of South African families, particularly children. Getting kids out and active and engaged as a community drives many their corporate social initiatives and the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League is currently considered the flagship of their programmes.
According to Andrew Cronje of the Spur Group, the Spur Schools MTB League has been one of Spur Steak Ranches’ marquee sponsorships. “Since inception the brand has invested over R7m into the league and the development of mountain biking as a school sport. We really appreciate the efforts of Amarider, the regional co-ordinators, their assistants and the participating schools all of whom contribute to the success of the league. On behalf of Spur, I wish all riders luck and hope they enjoy a memorable weekend,” concluded Cronje.
SPUR SCHOOLS MTB PROGRAMME
SATURDAY – 3 OCTOBER SCHOOLS FINAL
- 08H30 Sub Junior Boys
- 09H20 Youth Men A (15)
- 10H00 Youth Men B (16)
- 10H45 All Girls (1 minute between cats)
- 11H30 Junior Men
- 12H30 Onnies en Ouers – 2 laps
- 15H00 Fun relay
SUNDAY – 4 OCTOBER INTERPROVINCIAL
- 08H30 Sub Junior Boys
- O8H50 Youth Men
- 09H30 All Girls
- 10H15 Junior Men
- 11H30 Prize Giving