The first-ever Desert dash was held in 2005 and had only 44 participants in the 24-hour race of 369 kilometres.
The solo category race is formally uncontested as the longest single-stage mountain bike event in the world.
With participants kicking off in Windhoek, the route itself is both challenging and rewarding. Navigating sharp twists and turns and descending close to 700 metres within a 10 kilometre distance, cyclists are exposed to harsh temperatures which can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius. Bikers also pilot across the arid, rocky and monotonous landscape of the Namib Desert. This year, the race will once again end in the coastal town of Swakopmund at Tiger Reef.
In 2010 the Desert Dash had its first and only sightless participant, Jeffrey Norris.
“My first encounter with the desert was overwhelming. In this isolated area where there is nothing but sand, open ranges characterised by mountain ridges on the peripheries, and at night, nothing between the starry heaven and the warm earth except myself, I felt touched by life.” Both Jeffrey and Hubert Schwarz, his cycling partner, were awarded with the official trophy for the tandem category but were surprised when they were honoured with the overall award for courage and performance.
Prior to Nedbank becoming the headline sponsor of this iconic race, First National Bank presented by Pupkewitz-Nissan offered a tough race meant only for the most endearing and committed racers both locally and internationally.
Gernot de Klerk Head: Marketing & Communications tells us that “the Desert Dash is unique to Namibia and known internationally. Nedbank Namibia was ready to become involved in such an iconic race. Closely we have seen the immense growth and improvement of this phenomenal sport and our investment has produced the anticipated results.”
Encouraged by the vision to be the responsible brand for the Desert Dash, Nedbank Namibia inherited the brand equity and collateral to one of the most sought-after sporting events.
“Cycling can be expensive and we knew we had to break the elitist association by becoming involved. Through the years, we''ve identified cyclists such as Costa, Dan Craven, Jojo and many others who have, by natural talent, become icons in their own communities. Nedbank''s intention to maintain and expand on our commitment to cycling is evident through committed resources in support of hosting this year''s Desert Dash once again.
“With race entries growing significantly year on year, there is no doubt that sport is a catalyst for business relationships.”
Managing Director of Nedbank Namibia, Lionel Matthews, states that “whatever the bank touches turns ''Green''. And true to our slogan, ''We Make Things Happen'', we have taken cycling in Namibia to new levels of development. This is only getting better with time. Nedbank Namibia has been involved in many sport sponsorships over the years and we''ve found it predominantly in cycling. Cycling has grown at an unprecedented rate. The statistics prove it.
“Come race day, we see many of our clients, our potential clients, and our own people and many corporates that have followed suit in terms of sponsorship.
“Each year, race organisers attempt to elevate the race experience by bringing racers together in a safer environment. We are excited about the future prospects of the event and look forward to making great things happen once again.
“Any given weekend sees racers around the country being sponsored by private companies. In terms of a competitive edge, none of our competitors are playing in this space to the extent that Nedbank is, which warrants our brand as unchallenged.”
For any updates on the Desert Dash, visit www.desertdashnamibia.com.