We have often spoken of mountain biking and we have often spoken of ultra marathons – you put the two together and you have an ultra marathon mountain bike race.
With a determined effort to dominate this new and challenging extreme sport it is not hard to understand why South Africa is setting the pace in these events.
Ultra-marathon mountain bike races will become the newest challenge in a country that’s fixated on endurance sports events and the MTN National Mountain Bike Series will be at the forefront of the drive to push the limits even further, starting with the MTN Barberton Classic in Mpumalanga on 24 January.
Much like road cycling has done, South African mountain biking has grown steadily through the participation sector, as large numbers of enthusiastic riders of varying levels of skill and fitness make the most of good year-round weather and fantastic geographic diversity to compete in a packed calendar of endurance events.
At some point during the evolution in the sport in South Africa, the marathon distances settled on a minimum of 70km, which takes the leaders around three hours to complete and the majority of the field between four and five hours. In 2009, marathon distances at the MTN National Marathon Series event will remain unchanged, but a new Ultra-marathon distance will be added to some events.
It all begins at Barberton, the bushveld town at the foot of the Mkhonjwa Mountains in Mpumalanga. It’s the first round of the seven-leg national marathon series and the Ultra-marathon will be a combination of the 75km marathon route and the 45km Half-marathon route, giving a total distance of 120km. And with almost 4000 metres of climbing, it’s expected to be tough, as well as long!
Open to all riders who believe they’ll manage the increased distance within the cut-off time of 5 hours at the 75km mark, the Ultra-marathons will only offer MTN National Series points to Elite men.
If the video below from theogrobler of the South African half marathon mountain bike series is anything to go by the thought of a further 107 kms is totally exhausting!
Our thanks also to CyclingNews.co.za for bringing this story to our attention.