The inaugural Munga, where riders raced 1 070km, non-stop, totally unsupported, from Bloemfontein to the Cape Winelands, finished on Monday, with John Ntuli winning in a time of 69 hours 10 minutes. Amy Mcdougall was the first woman home and the eighth finisher overall (in three days 11 hours 56 minutes and 40 seconds).
The race was initially set for 2014, but had to be postponed to 2015 due to one of the key investors withdrawing their sponsorship. With the decision to go ahead without a title sponsor on board, the prize purse on offer was dropped and the 2015 race went ahead. On Wednesday 2 December, 42 riders started what has been dubbed “the toughest race on earth”, and 32 finished.
What follows is an emotional and heartfelt message from the race director Alex Harris.
What a ride! It is not just the culmination of five frenetic days of racing, but of years of planning and dreaming. Often we attribute the genesis of an idea to a single moment in time, or a specific event. But that’s not the case with the Munga. Days, weeks spent on the bike on lonely trails, misty mornings, high up in forgotten country, wondering, sometimes doubting, but in the end believing.
My excitement was not just for John Ntuli, from the Change A Life Academy, who came over the line 9 hours after my predicted winning time, but also for the two Wim’s who rolled in 90 mins before the five day cut-off. I shared in their plight, the anguish, the toil in the midday sun, scorching wind, and endless bumpy roads. To see them leave each day in the early hours and push through every type of pain confirmed once again how indomitable the human spirit is. When given the right mix of compelling ingredients, and motivating moments, people will dig deeper than ever before. They will find something else, a little bit more, somewhere, and keep going. This is what the Munga ultimately is about.
To the 32 riders who made it to the end, I salute you! You personify the best that is human. You stand as a beacon to the discouraged that anything is possible. In you, random people found new heroes. In a strange kind of way, your journey might just have been the spark to begin their own.
Thank you for digging deep!