Many major cycling events have been cancelled due to the government lockdown and social distancing restrictions that came into effect from mid-March. Not ideal, but understandable. It may not be the ideal time of year (think heat and rain in the KZN summer), but the decision to move the 2020 KAP Sani2c to early December confirms two things…
Thing 1: The organisers and sponsors’ significant commitment to the riders (their clients).
Thing 2: The organisers’ relentless commitment to the community of people that rely on this event for their livelihoods.
In 2000, a point-to-point multi-day mountain bike race on the Wild Coast, the Imana Wild Ride, developed by canoe paddling partners, Glen Haw and Steve Stamp, had begun to sew the mountain bike stage race seed. It wasn’t a marked route though, so orienteering ability was essential. Well, maybe not essential, but important. As long at the Indian Ocean was on your right, you were going in the right direction.
Since 1998, Haw had been developing a mountain bike route from his farm near Underberg in the Drakensberg foothills, to Scottburgh, a seaside Indian Ocean town, and by 2005, was ready to launch a three-day mountain bike event.
The timing couldn’t have been better. In 2004, the first Cape Epic had launched with an inaugural journey from Knynsa to Stellenbosch and there was much excitement about the 2005 edition. There was also a noticeable improved interest in mountain biking, which, until then had been relatively niche and dwarfed by road cycling. The first Sani2c was held in the month of February 2005, an ideal tester for those doing the Cape Epic a month later.
There’s a more complete summary of the history of the Sani2c here https://sani2c.co.za/about/how-it-began , but it’s worth noting that while the Cape Epic is generally credited for creating and growing mountain bike stage racing in South Africa, Sani2c has played a similarly powerful role. What is now the Absa Cape Epic, the world’s first UCI-rated mountain bike stage race, was always focussed on becoming an international race, while Sani2c remained focussed on delivering an affordable, high-quality experience for South Africans seeking adventure on a mountain bike.
This week (12-16 May 2020) marked the 15th anniversary of the KAP Sani2c. Over 3000 mountain bikers should have traversed the 260km from Glencairn to Scottburgh, toiling up the climbs, bombing the descents and appreciating some of the finest singletrack anywhere in the world. This week, over 3000 adventurous mountain bikers should have been escaping the daily grind and filling their lungs with fresh country air and their hearts with the joy that mountain biking freedom brings.
But the Coronovirus global pandemic however forced the organisers to make a date change and the 15thedition is now planned to take place from 2-5 December 2020. Not cancelled, postponed.
Over the years, Sani2c has become a significant income generator for the relatively poor, rural communities that live along the race’s route as well as a primary fund-raiser for the local schools. So much so that without the event, many families and schools would be left in a hopeless situation as national and provincial government support remain sketchy – at best.
Glen and Mandy Haw and their children, Tamika, Murray and Bianca, have ensured the development of the event has been in harmony with the people of the region to the extent that one isn’t possible without the other.
Another significant role this event has played is in helping develop and grow the mountain bike market in South Africa for a decade and a half. It’s not an easy race to finish, but it’s certainly possible for most that train, to complete it. As a result, it has been the event that’s helped motivate many to become mountain bikers. And it’s helped inspire many finishers to go on to become lifelong mountain bikers, many reversing their sedentary downward health spirals to become proudly fit and healthy. And happier.
Yes, mountain biking is the reason for the establishment of Sani2c, but people are the reason for its success. People that organise it. People that sponsor it. People that ride it. People that return to ride it again. And again. And the people that live along the route who spend their time and energy and skill helping prepare for an annual event that helps them, their children and their parents live better lives…
The world is in a fluid state as it comes to terms with reaction to Covid-19. Currently, South Africa is in Lockdown Level 4 (the second-most stringent level). No mass participation sports events are likely to happen before August 2020 and even that’s not certain. One thing that remains certain though is the significance of the KAP Sani2c on multiple levels to multiple people. And that’s why the 2020 edition can’t be cancelled.
To find out more about the postponed 2020 KAP Sani2c and how you can still enter, head here: http://www.treadmtb.co.za/organisers-of-kap-sani2c-announce-new-dates-in-december/
The Imana Wild Ride celebrates its 20th edition this year – more here: https://www.imanawildride.co.za