The 13th edition of the 36ONE MTB Challenge was completed recently. There were no course records. There was no inclement weather. There was just highly competitive racing among passionate endurance specialists, loads of team spirit, a 36-hour celebration of health and freedom and exceptional organisation.

Paid partnership with Dryland Event Management

Most will know that the 36ONE MTB Challenge is a 361km ultra-endurance race through the Karoo region around the town of Oudtshoorn. It starts at 15h00 on a Friday afternoon with a 36.1-hour time limit, ending at 03h00 on the Sunday morning.  It has been sponsored by 36ONE Asset Management since its launch in 2012 and it is one of the premier ultra-distance races in South Africa.

In addition to the Solo category in the 361km event, there’s a two-rider team category, which requires both team members to complete the full distance together. This has three sub-categories – Men, Women and Mixed.

Riding into the sunset is a given for all participants, many of whom also ride into a sunrise…

What many may not know though, is that it also offers other race options for those who aren’t confident in completing the full distance. There’s the Half Challenge 189km event, which is growing in popularity, especially among Gravel Racers. This event starts at 05h30 on the Saturday and ends at 03h00 on the Sunday.


The Full Challenge 361km event also offers a relay category, allowing riders to form two- or four-rider squads to tackle one of the most iconic races in the country. In the two-rider relay, each member completes approximately 189km, while in the four-rider race, each member completes approximately 90km, making it quite achievable for most who are relatively cycling fit.

Race teams and relay teams elevate the level of camaraderie at the 36ONE MTB Challenge


In the Half Challenge over 189km, there’s a Solo and Team option, where two riders can share the experience in the Men, Women or Mixed categories.


The evolution of gravel bikes in recent years has created a dilemma at the 36ONE MTB Challenge. There’s no doubt a gravel bike is more efficient and therefore faster than a mountain bike – unless the surface gets really rough and rider fatigue sets in later in the race. Freddie Visser won the 2024 edition on a mountain bike, while women’s race winner, Yolande de Villiers chose a gravel bike. De Villiers said afterwards that the gravel bike was great for the first half, but she would have preferred a mountain bike for the second half.

What’s it going to be – MTB or Gravel Bike?


Leading results from the 2024 edition

The Challenge 361km

Solo Men

1 Freddie Visser 13hrs 57min 38sec

2 Dean Hopf 14:16:24

3 Alexander Henning 14:34:14

Freddie Visser, winner of the 2024 edition of the 36ONE MTB Challenge

Solo Women

1 Yolande de Villiers 15:35:26

2 Nicola Freitas 17:46:33

3 Rebecca van Huyssteen 18:54:51

Yolande de Villiers, women’s winner of the 2024 edition of the 36ONE MTB Challenge

Team Men

1 Andrew Watson & Garth Ennion 17:29:15

2 Allen Meiring & Neil van Zyl 17:56:28

3 Jacques Venter & Adriaan Venter 18:11:01

Team Mixed

1 Natalie Madies & Stefano Madies 20:21:11

2 Amori Gerber & Jean Gerber 21:01:15

3 Jana van der Merwe & Nicholas Basson 21:09:43

Relay – 4-Rider

1 Team KV 16:42:38

2 Team CMC 13:23:04

3 Silostrat 5 18:49:17

Relay – 2-Rider

1 Thunder & Rust 23:18:36

2 Probeerders 24:02:48

3 Stingel & Tros 24:02:49

It’s only hard on the bike. The race village is an oasis for weary bicycle racers

The Half – 189km

Solo Men

1 Reece McDonald 6:46:30

2 Victor Olckers 6:52:13

3 Jos le Roux 6:52:45

Solo Women

1 Michaela Surtees 8:20:34

2 Rethe Mostert 8:28:23

3 Bianca Cooper 8:56:17

Team Men

1 Mark Weedall & Brett Parish 9:35:55

2 Raymond Odendaal & Johan Cronje 9:50:26

3 Callan Dewar & Fanie du Toit 11:27:37

For the full list of results, click here.

The water points are always well stocked with a range of food and drinks at the 36ONE MTB Challenge

“We saw a lot of newcomers to the event this year. This is good because it’s ensures continued growth of the race,” said Carel Herholdt of Dryland Event Management, organisers of the 36ONE MTB Challenge.

Once again, the organisation was on point. When an event’s duration runs through most of a weekend, nourishment on the route and meals are essential. Dryland has honed this service, which is part of the entry fee, into an art, delivering well-stocked waterpoints with a range of snacks, food and drinks. And the meals at the Checkpoints were once again hot, nutritious with more than enough for the participants.

“There was a surge in interest in the Half this year. It formed a leg of the 2024 Western Cape Gravel Series and that led to a boost in entries in that race in the Solo Men and Women’s categories. We anticipate further growth as the Gravel discipline gains popularity,” added Herholdt.

The 36ONE MTB Challenge is not flat, but it is incredibly scenic!

“We see the biggest growth potential in the relay teams though. The relay leg distances make it possible for most reasonably fit riders to enter. And we are working with Avis to offer discounted rental rates for 2025. We are also working on a driver-assist plan to ensure the logistics for the relay are as simple as possible.

“Besides being a very solid challenge for each team member, the relay lends itself to a road trip for friends that share a passion for riding bicycles. The whole experience requires both solo commitment and team work, which really builds bonds and creates memories that last a lifetime,” explained Herholdt.

The next edition will take place from 23-25 May 2025. Entries will open in July 2024, but check out the race website here to see what to expect.

The sense of achievement when finishing The 36ONE MTB Challenge is immense
Paid partnership with Dryland Event Management