When 403 Namibian participants line up for the start of a race, you know that you are part of something special. The best of the best pitted against each other for 80 km of some of the most beautiful, yet challenging Namibian landscapes.
This was the 2019 MTB Eagle Ride held at Otjiwa Safari Lodge last Saturday, the third leg of the Gravel & Dirt MTB Marathon Series, powered by Hollard.
At the 36 km mark, Gerhard Mans Jnr (sub-veteran men) was focussed as he led the pack. Coming from a record-breaking victory at last month's West Coast MTB, Mans set a staggering pace, but behind him were Alex Miller, Xavier Papo and Drikus Coetzee – three riders who would not let Mans's conquest go unchallenged.
It was not to be, as Mans entered the final 100 meter sprint with Miller right behind him. Mans crossed the finish line with a time of 2:23:28, only three seconds ahead of Miller (elite men) with a time of 2:23:31, taking overall victory for the 80 km race.
Irene Steyn (veteran women) rode an amazing race on the day, dominating from the get-go. She completed the 80km distance in a time of 2:43:40, three minutes ahead of her nearest rival Jeanne Heunis (sub-veteran women) with a time of 2:46:34.
The MTB Eagle Ride also played host to 40 km, 20 km and 10 km cycling distances, as well as 20 km and 10 km running routes, which saw athletes of all ages compete.
A multi-faceted event such as the MTB Eagle Ride is the perfect platform for young up and coming riders to see their local heroes in action, nurturing and developing the next generation of champions who will represent Namibia in the years to come.
Of course, this would not be possible without the support of sponsors such as Hollard, Kia Motors Namibia, Windhoek Light Beer, Food Lovers Market, Candor Namibia, Panamor Gel, Cymot as well as Otjiwa Safari Lodge for the amazing venue. The organisers expressed their sincere appreciation for the support.
• Next up on the Gravel & Dirt MTB Marathon Series calendar we have the Africa Safari Lodge MTB near Mariental on 8 June.