Race report – Hluhluwe Rhino Charge (MiWay Big 5 MTB Series #3 of 5)

    Riders rode through the pineapple fields in the Hluhluwe Rhino Charge on Sunday, 21 July 2013. Hluhluwe produces 95% of the country’s pineapples! Photo: Nadine Matthew

    The 3rd race in the MiWay Big 5 MTB Series proved to be a ride to remember with over 800 participants showing up for race day! The amazing feedback and 20% increase in participation has resulted in the Hluhluwe Rhino Charge being hailed the “best ride the Series has had to offer, ever”!

    Media frenzy

    As always, adding to the excitement and atmosphere at a MiWay Big 5 MTB Series event is the presence of the MiWay media team, headed up by Max Cluer Sports Marketing.

    Every aspect of the Hluhluwe Rhino Charge is captured on film thanks to an army of cameras and coffee, with the film footage being produced by GoBoy Productions for MiWayMTB on YouTube as well as for the MiWay Mountain Biking show on SuperSport. Olympic photographer Craig Dutton complimented the team with amazing skill, taking some of the best mountain biking photos in the Series to date, with Nadine Matthew perfectly capturing the essence of the event – family fun!

    Fields of gold. Photo: Nadine Matthew

    The Route ins-and-outs

    Hluhluwe Private School played host for the first time, and its close proximity near the False Bay entry gate meant easy access to a more diverse route. The riders started on the school sports field, racing through pineapple fields before entering the False Bay section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and continuing on through to the Dukandlovu hiking trail.

    Conservation officer for the False Bay Park, Julian Simon, also doubled up as the track designer for this year’s event. He managed to balance the needs of the mountain bikers with the park’s need to preserve the natural surroundings. This win-win compromise ensured that the pristine ecology of the park was left undamaged, as well as provided the lucky mountain bikers with coveted views of the park normally only seen by small groups of hikers!

    From the Dukandlovu trail, the bikers wound down through the forest with the occasional sightings of game, through to the shores of Lake St Lucia snaking the single track section on the water’s edge. Who knew that this jewel of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park even existed? Locals who have lived in the areas all their lives remarked that they had discovered something new, thanks to the MiWay Big5 MTB Series!

    Whilst the 25km riders headed back out the park, the 50km riders entered the Mpophomeni Trail. Here, the sand forest closed down into a tighter section of 15kms of single track that pushed the riders’ technical skills to the limit! The route them wound back down to the shoreline, through the pineapple fields and a last smattering of single track to wrap thinsg up.

    Results Summary

    Sean Merredew, the 50km series leader, finally gave up his usual first place podium spot, with Derrin Smith hammering through the single track to come in first at 1:50:00! Tyrone White finished almost 2 minutes behind in second place, and David Low took third at 1:54:00.

    In the women’s 50km, local rider Desiree Verwey stuck to her winning ways ahead of Isabel Moolmen in 2nd, and Richards Bay rider Jean Grace in 3rd.

    The 25km men’s was won by Nelson Joshua in time of 1.01 whilst Kobus Botha showing the youngsters that there’s still much fight left in this Master rider coming in second and Ballito rider Najabulo Nsikayezwe riding for Midbay Motors coming in third.

    First female 25km from ZMSC Tracey Van Zyl came in first at 1.16 followed by Althea Grebe and Candice Farland in third.

    The 10km Challenge a huge success

    The timing of the 10km for the first time in the series this year, has placed new emphasis on this younger sector of the Series. The recognition given to these future stars has produced amazing results with youngsters entering all five races determined to win a Challenge medal! Whole families are attending the series and entering the different distances, making the MiWay Big 5 MTB Series a truly family-orientated event, with offerings for the whole family! Take for instance, Isobel Moolman who tops the ranks of the 50km whilst her son Warren Moolman wins the 10km – talk about the proverbial apple not falling far from the tree!

    And for the spectators and supporters, the MiWay Big 5 MTB Series continues to entertain the whole family with the Nashua Skydivers and local Zulu dancers performing during the day, with the Kidzone and adult chill zones adding up to a great day out for all!

    Catch the next race in the MiWay Big 5 MTB Series, the Monzi Hippo Challenge, on September 8th. Click here for all details.

    Fun for the whole family! Photo: Nadine Matthew