With a packed racing calendar full of choice, it takes a special kind of event to make an impact from the inaugural edition. The 2017 Vodacom Hippo Hollow MTB Challenge has set out to do just that, taking participants through some of the most spectacular riding around Hazyview, Mpumalanga, just minutes from the Kruger National Park.
There are hippos at Hippo Hollow Country Estate. And crocodiles. And next door, at Elephant Whispers, there are elephant. At the Vodacom Hippo Hollow MTB Challenge on 3 June, the race route passes through Hippo Hollow and Elephant Whispers. Yes, it’s a bit risky. But it’s far safer than riding a road bike on a busy road…
The inaugural Vodacom Hippo Hollow MTB Challenge takes place in Hazyview, the closest South African town to the Kruger National Park. Hazyiew has rivers (Sabie and Marite), forest plantations, lush indigenous forest, agricultural lands and of course some hills.
There are four events all of which start and finish at Induna Adventures on the outskirts of Hazyview. The 70km Marathon, the 40km Half-marathon a 15km Fun Ride and a 2km kiddies race. There’s an event to suit everyone.
Vodacom has also ensured there’s a good prize purse with R15000, R7500 and R5000 to the top three men and women in the 70km Marathon; and R5000 to the men and women’s winners of the Half-marathon.
“On our route preview with the organisers, we discovered that the Hazyview area is a mountain biking gem. Currently, a hidden gem, but that’s likely to change after the Vodacom Hippo Hollow MTB Challenge,” said leading Johannesburg-based mountain bike coach, Alasdair Garnett.
“Both the Marathon and Half-marathon routes hug the river beds of the Sabie and Marite Rivers, which are incredibly wild and unspoilt. That much river-side trail in an event is rare and sure to become the signature sections of the Vodacom Hippo Hollow MTB Challenge,” said Sean Badenhorst, Editor of treadmtb, who was also on the route preview ride.
“We have such amazing places to ride here in Hazyview and wanted to create an annual event that will give others a chance to experience this region on their mountain bikes. There have been mountain bike events in Hazyview before, but the routes have never headed as far east and north as they do for the Vodacom Hippo Hollow MTB Challenge. You don’t get a mountain bike race getting this close to the Kruger Park,” said event director, André Visagie.
“In designing the routes, we have ensured that the Marathon is sufficiently challenging, but of course highly rewarding. There’s an increasing number of easier marathons on the calendar these days, where average speeds aren’t far off those in road races! Our Marathon route has 1600 metres of ascent and a high percentage of stimulating singletrack – it needs to be worth driving over three hours to complete for those coming from Gauteng,” added Visagie.
“The Half-marathon, with 1100 metres of vertical ascent, has to be one of the most beautiful half-marathon race routes in the country. It’s going to be difficult for riders to focus on the trail because the scenery is just stunning,” added Visagie.
Non-riding supporters will be able to enjoy craft beer on tap and other refreshments from the food and drink stalls as well as live music. Children will have a number of fun activities to choose from at Induna Adventures, including an obstacle course, jumping castle and face-painting.
All finishers of the mountain bike events will get commemorative medals and Vodacom will also be giving away lucky draw prizes. Dylan Victor will offer a skills clinic the day before as well as put on a bike stunt show on race day.
Hazyview is just a 15-minute drive from the Phabeni Gate into the Kruger National Park, making it easy for a visit to the world-famous reserve for those planning to make a weekend of the Vodacom Hippo Hollow MTB Challenge.
To enter or for more race and accommodation information, visit Vodacom Hippo Hollow MTB Challenge