Botswana’s premiere cycling event, the Subaru Kalahari challenge, is back again.
This year’s event is billed to take place on the 23rd and 24th of this month. With a sponsorship value believed to be over P600┬á000, this year’s event is expected to attract at least 150 teams and more than 300 cyclists. For this year’s 6th edition, the race sees long time co-sponsors, Subaru South Africa, pulling out and giving way to Subaru Botswana.
The pull out by the South African motor dealership also sees the arrival of Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) coming on board as the event’s new co ÔÇô sponsor.
The arrival of BTO, who are also co-sponsors of the event’s car racing version, the Toyota Kalahari 1000 km Desert Race, is taken as a signal of the cycling event’s growth stature over its six years of existence. Addressing the press during the event’s launch, Seamus O’Neill of the Gaborone Cycling Club (GCC), who are the race’s organisers, hailed the involvement of the BTO saying their partnership with the race will have a significant input in Botswana’s tourism industry.
For this year, O’Neill says they are expecting representatives from various countries like Malta, Kenya, Isle of Man, Namibia and South Africa, as well as first time debuts from Swaziland and Zimbabwe riders.
Among the cyclists expected to grace this year’s race are the defending champions, the Safari Simbas of Kenya, as well as the Minolta Biz Hub ladies professional team from South Africa.
The participation of the Kenyans, who are sponsored by Kenya Airways, is expected to raise the level of competitiveness in the race as other riders will be keen to outshine them this time around.
The Safari Simbas took everyone by surprise in their debut Subaru Kalahari challenge last year as they breezed to a comfortable win, leaving their fellow competitors way behind.
During the race’s first day, riders will be expected to tackle a 97 km distance from Gaborone to Lobatse where they will have an overnight stop.
The race, which will start at Game City upper car park at 9 o’clock on Saturday morning, will take riders through Wharic Park to some single tracks near St Joseph’s College before steering them towards Mokolodi Nature reserve. The riders will then go through the villages of Manyana, Lekgolobotlo and Mogobane before heading to Lobatse.
Day two of the race, a 95 km marathon, which will start from the overnight stop in Lobatse at 8 o’clock on Sunday morning, will see riders passing through Otse, Lephala, Mogonye, Boatle, Sentlhane and Mokolodi before finishing at the Wharic Rugby Park, where riders are expected to do a lap of honour before entering the rugby grounds.
Concerning the finishing point, the race organisers say they have moved it from the usual Gaborone Yacht Club at Gaborone Dam area due to high water levels.
In a bid to make the event spectator friendly, the organisers say for this year, they have organised a fun spot at Manyana Village on the first day of the race. Some of the events at the fun spot will be a 10 km fun ride, Subaru test drives as well as a 5 km race, which will be done by radio personality teams from Duma FM, Gabz FM and Yarona FM, just to mention a few.