19 August 2015 – Hailed as a “triumph of the human spirit”, the Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash’s slogan slots right in with the triumph of the spirit of KwaZulu-Natal’s RMB Change A Life (CAL) Academy, who are relishing the chance to be part of the celebration of Mandela’s Day at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site on Saturday, 29 August.
Speaking of the significance of a race like the Mandela Day Marathon MTB Dash, RMB CAL Zulus team captain John Ntuli said that it was a very important race for the team. “Mandela was a man of the country and an important part of our history. When the race started last year, the guys were very happy to do it. It is an iconic race actually, and we love to be part of it. It is very important to all of us to be part of the celebration of Mandela’s Day.”
Explaining the significance of the team to the local community of the Valley of 1000 Hills, Ntuli says: “The Academy has changed my life, big time! All the younger kids who see us riding want to join the team and do what we do. They love us and they love the idea of cycling, and the good lifestyle that it brings.”
Ntuli has spent a large part of his life racing, and over the past 15 years he has competed in running races as well as duathlons (a combination of running and cycling). Over the past five years, Ntuli has been a vital cog in the wheel of the RMB CAL Zulus. Now, he gets to coach and train the younger generation while competing at a top level. “It makes me feel good to be able to teach them,” he said.
The RMB CAL Zulus is made up of 10 men over the age of 20. The team members are Sthembiso Masango, Mboneni Ngcobo, Bongumusa Zikhali, Maza Ndontso, Sipho Kupiso, Mazwi Smimasango, Dumisani Tshabalala, Syanda Masango, Scelo Mhlongo and Ntuli.
“We are now on the search for two young women to join the team,” said Ntuli.
With the development of cycling in the province being a strong focus of Cycling KwaZulu-Natal (CKZN), a life changing and stimulating project like the RMB Change A Life Academy contributes to discovering future champions by identifying talent and providing a support structure to develop and nurture that talent.
RMB Change A Life Academy founder, Martin Dreyer, notes that the Mandela Day Marathon festival of events is a great day out for all sporting enthusiasts. “It’s a very big deal on the calendar. The whole weekend sees a lot of athletes participating. Mountain biking is still growing in stature if you compare it to the running marathon.
But with 2016 Rio Olympic Games mountain bike track builder Nick Floros being responsible for shaping the routes, mountain bikers will know they are in safe and capable hands! Based on that, we are in for a real treat with the route.”
The lure of the total R120000 prize purse for the mountain bike races alone has rippled through the mountain bike community, not least for the RMB CAL Zulus.
“The opportunity of winning real cash gets anyone excited, especially those who are reliant on cycling as an income source,” said Dreyer. “They are very excited at the opportunity to participate for a portion of the very big prize purse and there are age group prizes too.”
The RMB CAL Zulus feel privileged to be part of an event of this magnitude, and to be racing in the honour and remembrance of our late former President, Nelson Mandela. The title of the race alone, as well as the iconic venue, provides immense inspiration.
“The team raced the first event last year and they will tell you that it is not very long, but it is tough,” said Dreyer, whose riders are well used to the longer marathon distances in mountain bike races. “They had a fantastic time on the course.”
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/
For more information on KZN MTB Commission, visit – http://www.kznmtb.co.za/
For the online event entries, visit the ROAG website – http://www.roag.co.za/eventinfo.aspx?EventID=1599