Race Report – Munnik Meerkat Mountain Bike Challenge 19th March 2022, Limpopo

The Munnik Meerkat MTB Challenge is annually presented by members of Munnik Farmers (Pty) Limited. It is one of the oldest Farmers Associations in South Africa, founded on 23 February 1917. The race has been held more than 13 times. It’s a great challenge for any mountain biker, and a fabulous experience sporting the beautiful Limpopo Bushveld as backdrop!

Add this race to your 2023 race calendar! Challenging and brilliant!

Race Categories

70 km marathon, 35 km half-marathon, 10 km fun ride and 3 km kiddies fun ride.

Race Rating (5 ⭐️ Excellent – 1 ⭐️ Very Poor)

5 ⭐️ – Overall Organisation, Registration, No. Collection, Race Pack, Route, Route Marking, Water Points, Race Village, Race Timing
4 ⭐️ – Race Information Communication
3 ⭐️ – Website, Social Media

Friday, 18 March 2022, we’re off to Munnik in Limpopo, to take on the 70 km Munnik Meerkat MTB Challenge. Much excitement! We route via Haenertsburg, Magoebaskloof and Politsi, stunning!

On arrival in Limpopo we popped into Munnik Village for a look-a-see. It’s a historic railway village that needs restoration. Also, the race venue. The race, in part, will aid the restoration project. We found the Village in a hive of activity, with the friendly locals setting up for race day. Taking in the historic buildings and railway line, we snapped a few and continued our trip to Mahuto Lodge, situated in Munnik Conservancy.

Mahuto Lodge is a rustic venue, ideal for family weekends and large hunting groups. Perfect for our overnight stay before race day! We spent the evening enjoying a roaring bushveld fire in the boma, having supper, and chatting to fellow racers.

Mahuto Lodge Bookings: Charlotte Knott – +27(0)82 456 3097
https://www.greatermunnik.com/accommodation/mahuto

Race Day

Saturday, 19 March 2022! We’re up early, the race starts at 07:00 am. Bodies fueled, gear packed, bikes loaded, we zoom off to Munnik Village. On arrival at Munnik Hall, we receive race boards and packs, ready to roll! We sprint to the start chute, five minutes to go! I opted to be right on the start line. Allan, being a gentleman, is in the chute mid-to-back. Competitors are reminded of race rules and cautions, by the MC. Key, the first couple of clicks, has heavy and dangerous descents and steep ascents. Count down! 30 Seconds to go! WE’RE off! I take it easy. Al, eventually pass me, we say our last goodbye before we’re enveloped by the excitement of the route awaiting us.

Allan had a fabulous time on the bike, with a great race result, finishing in the first half of the field; time 03:45:03, overall 31 of 68, gender 26 of 57, masters 8 of 16 💪🚴‍♂️🏆🎖.

Lucy’s result is different, but I’m proud of Me, wonky ankle and wrist plus a bruised ego 🚴‍♀️💥🥴😅; time 05:25:20, overall 59 of 68, gender 10 of 11, masters 2 of 2. I hit podium! Funny! Read all about it!

Race and Route

Steep descents I can handle. Very steep ascents with congestion and fellow racers stopping dead in their tracks were something else. Within the first few kilometres, I crashed as a result. Nearly rolling down a hill, luckily, the undergrowth stopped my progress. Got up as fast as possible. Bike check, all good. Body check, right ankle and wrist took a knock. BUT, let’s do this! We’re here to race 🚴‍♀️💨💪😅!

The first 5 km of my race were a mix of riding and walking. My ankle and wrist were bruised and sensitive I was not sure if I would be able to complete the 70 km race. At the first checkpoint, I consulted with race officials to see if it was possible to split out and complete the 35 km race, rather. The officials were accommodating but also encouraging. They assured me that the rest of the route was less challenging than the first part. If I was up to it, they recommended proceeding on the 70 km route, as it is a great experience. Before I could change my mind, I zoomed off on “The Black Stallion” 🚲, another 60 km to bag 🚴‍♀️💨.

An experience like no other. Back of the pack with about two or three other cyclists behind me, widely spread. I virtually had 60 km of the best mountain bike trails I have ever ridden, to myself. The route consisted of a small portion of gravel road and a mix of jeep track and single track meandering through the Greater Munnik Conservancy. The trails are well designed and maintained. There were delights around every corner. Game viewing by mountain bike! Have you ever? Managed to sneak up on, Dung Beatles, magnificent little goggos, I filmed one. Spotted a blackish snake, I got a fright, he got a fright, he slipped away into the grass, I sped off, laughing like a nervous five-year-old 🐍🤯😂. Species I spotted; Blesbok, Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Kudu, Ostrich, Red Hartebeest and Waterbuck, all in a mere 60 km. Magic!

Water Points

The water points had a great vibe and friendly hospitality. All well stocked with cold water, ice, Coke, Energade, Jellies and some offered bananas. The last WP was more entertaining, I could fill my bottle with a bit of Zing if I wanted to 😋😁.

Finish Line

I sped over the finish line with gusto! Knowing I wasn’t last 😅. There was one more guy a few kilometres behind me, he was cramping 😬🤭. Received my medal and had some pics taken! Wolfed down a brekkie bun with the best tasting chips ever, provided by my caring Partner In Crime 🤩🥳! Body bruised and tired! Mind in overdrive! Soul Happy! Munnik Meerkat MTB Challenge imprinted on my being! What a great adventure 👌♥️!

Ready for the 2023 Munnik Meerkat!

Appreciation

Great thanks to every person of the Munnik Community; who contributed to the success of the 2022 Munnik Meerkat MTB Challenge, from shop floor to top floor, putting on a great show for us mountain bikers! You Rock!

Event Sponsors

ZZ2, Miami Canners, The Bicycle Company, STIHL, NTK, JMGrafixx Web Designers, Golden Threads Embroidery, Ivy Safaris, Westfalia Fruit, DÜ Paint and Tool, PPS Petroleum Supplier, Tzaneen Cycle Café

Cause

The Munnik Meerkat Mountainbike Challenge is held in aid of:
• To raise funds for the restoration and development of Munnik Village, thereby creating a wonderful historic railway village.
• Create employment and empower local communities, through community projects and private enterprise.
• Create an awareness of the wildlife areas surrounding Munnik.

Munnik once supported a busy local farming community, including a railway station, community hall, post office, garage, general dealer, clinic, butchery, sports fields and schools. However, times and technology have changed, most of the cattle farms are now conservation areas, filled with plains of game – some even have buffalo.

The tiny Village of Munnik needs urgent attention to return to her former glory as the most beautiful railway station in South Africa – an honour bestowed on her in the past. We hope that through the fund-raising of this race and other events hosted by the Munnik community, we will be able to achieve this and help Munnik to become sustainable once more through the development of much needed community projects.” – www.munnikmeerkat.co.za/race-info

Photos by Allan Webber and Luculle Stols – @real.life.rebel on Instagram
Photos by https://www.greatermunnik.com/accommodation/mahuto