It was an intense affair watching the inaugural Munga unfold last year. Part of me was thrilled that the race was finally underway, but part of me was concerned with how the unusual format would play out and be received. Within hours though, it was clear that the format, while tough, was extremely compelling, with an unbelievable amount of traffic on our tracking page. People from all walks of life were captivated by the tiny dots moving across the Karoo, each cheering their own hero on towards the finish.
I kept ahead of the field, making sure water-points were mobilised and each team was in place, watching with interest as the leaders of the field spread out. It was a tough race to call. I thought Grant Usher had the perfect strategy; a measured race with disciplined sleep at regular intervals, but a stomach bug late in the day put an end to dreams of glory. Chris Van Zyl's initial fast pace had me both amazed and concerned before the heat took its toll. Then there was John Ntuli. Always there, somewhere, chasing hard. I thought John needed more sleep as I gazed into a vacant stare. I knew that look. I'd been there before, to another world where trails drift in and out of a semi-conscious state and time looses all meaning. But he hung on.
Some time in the build up to the race, Chris Wilson from Design in Motion Cycles and I had sat down for a chat. We tried to think of who in the cycling community that had expressed an interest in the Munga, best personified what the Munga stood for. John was our choice, our horse so to speak. And so, to watch our pick come in first was incredibly sweet. Two other themes caught my attention in this first race. Five women entered and five women finished, showing once again that the endurance gene favours both sexes.
And then finally, the two Wims. Both friends and mentors, and being instrumental in Exxaro and PWC coming on board as sponsors, to watch the two of them roll across the line, somewhat dead, but very much alive, with just 90 minutes to spare, touched me to the core. It was the final vindication that the Munga is different. That ordinary people can find something special when its needed and rise to the extraordinary. That, at its core, is what the Munga is about!