Thursday, October 28, 2021

Athletes give the Subaru Kalahari Challenge the thumbs up

Participants at the just ended 2nd Edition of the Subaru Kalahari Mountain Bike Challenge have praised this year’s edition of the annual race as an astounding success.

The cyclists, both local and international, unanimously agreed that the race was very well organized save for some minor glitches, which they feel if rectified can make the race one of the best in the continent.

All the international cyclists who spoke to Telegraph Sport alluded to the fact that they are keen to come back next year. There is consensus among the athletes that the race’s organizers have to improve the race’s repair center in order to make it easy for riders to repair their bicycles after the races.

Another area that the athletes say will need to be looked into is the road markings on the race course. They say they got lost along the routes and this made them lose time during the race.

“The race was perfect, the atmosphere was fantastic. When we passed along the villages, there were kids on the way cheering us on. This was a very well organized event,” said Mike Curtis of Rock & Rut Cycling Club in Namibia. The Namibian, who was making his second appearance in the Subaru Challenge, told Standard Sport that this year’s race was a far much better improvement from last year’s.

For their part, the newly crowned champions of Subaru Challenge, the SafariSimbaz of Kenya say the race is one of the best in Africa.

“This race is miles ahead of those we have in Kenya. In Kenya, if you have forty riders for a race of this type, you will be considered successful but here the number of participants is so huge,” said David Kinjah and Davidson Kamau of the SafariSimbaz.

The duo says should they get sponsorship, they will definitely come back for next year’s edition of the race.

Despite not qualifying to be on the podium due to his partner pulling out of the race, Angus Boxshall-Smith of the Gaborone Cycling Club (GCC) expressed delight at this year’s race.

Boxshall-Smith’s partner caught a bout of flu three days before the race and pulled off 60 km after the race began on Saturday. This left the GCC rider without a teammate, which disqualified him from making it to the podium despite coming third in the race.

Speaking to Standard Sport, Boxshall-Smith called upon other sponsors to come on board to make the race bigger and give it more international appeal. He says despite Subaru putting money in the championship, it was not enough to cover the costs of organizing the race. The SafariSimbaz of Kenya won this year’s Challenge in 7 hours 56 minutes, followed by a new look team of Andre Cordes and Slahde Seale from South Africa who made the race in 8 hrs 17 minutes.

Cordes came into the race without his teammate and brother Paul who has turned professional and is racing in the professional ranks. The Cordes brothers were the defending champions of the Subaru Kalahari Challenge.

As expected, the local team of Neville Van Zyl and Victor Potgieter from GCC made it to the podium after coming in third, clocking 8 hrs 39 minutes.

A developmental team of Batswana riders, Ezekiel Sibanda and Jabu Tabolane, made it into the top five positions after making a time of 9 hrs 17 minutes to clinch fifth position.

From the first day the race started, there was no doubt as to who would emerge victorious as the Kenyans set the trail ablaze with a blistering pace to win the first course. However, they lost time on the second day after losing the way and tracking back to find the right path before blazing the trail again to clinch the championship.

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