WHAT started out as a challenge between a few friends in 2005, has evolved into one of the premium mountain bike endurance challenges in the world. The FNB Desert Dash, 340 km 24 hr MTB Challenge will take place on 18 and 19 December 2009, when 280 riders in 152 teams attempt to complete this day/ night/day route from Windhoek to Swakopmund in 24 hours.
Of the total entrants, 80 riders have enlisted to challenge the solo category: the daunting 340 km across the Khomas Hochland and through the Namib Park. The entries for the longest single stage mountain bike race in the world has increased steadily since the inaugural event. From 13 riders in 2007 to 41 riders in 2008, the 2009 event holds challenge to 80 riders undertaking this endurance adventure of their cycling lives.
With off-road cycling growing steadily every year, it is clear that the popularity of this event is following suit. In the past riders from all over the world have shown interest in this event and this year will be no different. Countries such Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Australia and the United States of America will be represented.
About 51% of the riders are Namibians, while 42% are South Africans. With Mannie Heymans (2007 and 2008 solo winner) out of the challenge due to injuries, the podium is wide open for the 2009 champion to take the stand. With a bank of competent challengers from both South Africa and Namibia, the FNB Desert Dash is an open opportunity for the well prepared rider.
The organiser of the event, Aidan de Lange, highlighted the fact that the FNB Desert Dash, Namibia’s premium cycling endurance event, relies primarily on the support of its sponsors and has expressed his appreciation for the cash injection received from title sponsor, First National Bank Namibia.
Dixon Norval, head of Strategic Marketing of FNB Namibia, reiterated FNB’s commitment to sport in Namibia. He said that the FNB Desert Dash is indeed the pinnacle of any lifestyle event the bank has ever sponsored. “We wish each participant all the best in this endurance race. The growth in entries reflects that this event has become a highlight in the extreme endurance sport of our country.”