In early 2020 the announcement was made that the Magalies Monster, one of South Africa’s oldest and most popular mountain bike marathons, was without a title sponsor. Then Covid-19 restrictions forced the cancelation of the event last year, but it’s bouncing back in a big way in 2021 with a new sponsor.

While the year 2020 will be remembered for its near obliteration of a very strong South African mountain bike race calendar, it did also bring some positives. One of those positives is that Fedhealth came on board as the title sponsor of the Magalies Monster from 2021. Another positive is that mountain bikers started to miss races and now seem to appreciate them more.

Pieter du Toit on his way to winning the 2019 edition of the Magalies Monster Marathon. | Photo: Stillwater Sports/Tobias Ginsberg.

Curiously, before we even knew of a virus named Covid-19 the depressed South African economy had a noticeable effect on the South African mountain bike market. Not only were events that once had waiting lists struggling to fill entries, but retailers were also looking glumly at diminishing sales figures.

A global pandemic changed a lot, with the more established events able to weather a one-year cancelation or date postponement and bike shops selling more bikes in a winter season than the festive season as cycling became incredibly popular!

Within this time of turmoil, the story of the Fedhealth Magalies Monster MTB Classic, which began as an outride for 25 riders in 2002, is one of hope. There were 240 entrants in 2003, the first official Magalies Monster race. That number grew steadily as mountain biking became more popular.

In 2010, Stillwater Sports, a professional events company took over the management and marketing of the event. This brought in title sponsors Pronutro and then FNB, which helped the numbers grow even more, peaking with up to 2000 entries.

But FNB’s decision not to extend its sponsorship beyond 2019 marked another turning point for the event as Stillwater Sports decided to part ways with the event and return the organisation and management to local organisers from 2020. Like many other mountain bike events last year, the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the South African government’s Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The annual Magalies Monster will take place in 2021 with a new sponsor in Fedhealth. | Photo: Stillwater Sports/Tobias Ginsberg

The annual competitive mountain bike race, which incorporates a long, challenging ascent up the side of Breedsnek, one of the more iconic climbs in the Magaliesberg mountain range, didn’t happen. Nobody really knew in June last year what was to become of not just the Magalies Monster, but all popular mass sports events. Fortunately, the recovery of events has now fully begun, albeit within Covid-19 parameters, and there will be another edition of the most famous mountain bike race in the North West Province this June.

Fedhealth, a leading South African medical aid, has been the title sponsor of the Fedhealth MTB Challenge, which takes place annually in the Western Cape and which is owned by Stillwater Sports. The event has grown steadily over the past five years and Fedhealth was keen to expand its reach into the mountain bike communities of Joburg and Pretoria, both of which hold the Magalies Monster in high regard.

So, with the Fedhealth title sponsorship of the Magalies Monster, comes the return of Stillwater Sports as organisers too.

“We are excited to welcome Fedhealth as the title sponsor of the 18th annual Fedhealth Magalies Monster MTB Classic,” says Michael Meyer, Managing Director of Stillwater Sports. “Fedhealth is passionate about healthy living, the outdoors and quality time with family. The Magalies Monster ticks all three boxes. Catering for adventure seekers of all ages, the mountain bike event takes place on the Saturday and is the perfect weekend breakaway for families.”

“The Fedhealth Magalies Monster MTB Classic is renowned for its routes,” continues Meyer.  “Featuring the best off-road routes on offer in the North West Province, the event possess a perfect balance between challenge and reward. Mountain bikers can choose between a +-16km, +-33km and +-65km route. There is also a ‘kids event’. It’s the perfect family weekend away in June.”

Says Jeremy Yatt, Fedhealth Principal Officer: “As a medical scheme, Fedhealth is invested in the health of our members and their families. Physical fitness plays a big part in health and wellness, and as such, our sponsorship of this event is a no-brainer. We look forward to enjoying this event with all participants!”

The 2021 Fedhealth Magalies Monster takes place on Saturday 5 June at the ATKV Resort in Buffelsdrift, a 90-minute drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The distances are a 65km marathon, 33km half marathon, 16km Fun Ride and 2.5km Kiddies Race. The first 2000 mountain bikers to enter will receive an official event t-shirt.  Medals will be awarded to all finishers.

To find out more or to enter online, head over here.