The race that has all sorts of endurance cycling enthusiasts and racers talking is The Munga. With a prize purse of $USD1 000 000, a long point to point format, and the wild country of South Africa to race across, it’s a captivating proposition. Today, the Munga have announced a number of top riders that have entered the ultra-endurance race – contenders that come from a variety of mountain biking disciplines but that are sure to create some serious talk within the mountain biking industry.
“Since we opened entries, the biggest question I have been asked to date is: ‘Who are some of the big names that have entered?’ Well today, we are releasing some of these names as we believe that there is no better way to get people excited than giving them some insight into the vast range of riders that believe they have what it takes to WIN The Munga!” says Alex Harris, Race Director for The Munga.
These are just some of the names that the organisers have released, those that have stumped up the $USD10000 entry fee. Riders are listed with their team mates.
Bart Brentjens and Jeroen Boelen
Bart Brentjens is a 2-time Olympic medallist (gold and bronze from 1996 and 2000), UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Champion, a Dutch National Champion title holder, a Cape Epic winner and runner up, as well as a Cape Epic Masters winner 2 years in a row. He will be teaming up with Joeren Boelen who is a 2 x Olympias stage winner from the Netherlands and is known to be a strong sprinter, plus he won the Crocodile Trophy in 2011.
Cory Wallace and Jason English
Cory Wallace is a 29 year old Canadian marathon rider who has just won his 3rd Mongolia Bike Challenge, raced the Trans Rockies time and again, having won the race in 2009 and stage 3 in 2013 and most recently placed 1st in the Canadian National Marathon Championships. Cory stepped upto another level in 2013, and has done so again in 2014, with a top 20 result at XCM Worlds to add to his stage race accolades. His team mate for The Munga will be Jason English who is a 5-time consecutive Australian National 24hr Championships winner, multiple 24hr solo World Champion and dual Australian National XCM Champion.
Petervary and Reifschneider
Jay Petervary is an American ultra-endurance cyclist with a reputation for taking on some of the longest domestic cycling challenges in existence, regardless of season. A 6-time Iditarod Race competitor and 4-time Tour Divide finisher, Jay has the mental attitude, patience, passion and confidence to push further. His team mate will be Kurt Reifschneider, a geology professor by day and mountain biker by night, who holds the records on both the Arizona Trail 750 and 300.
Karl Platt and Thomas Dietsch
The duo from Team Bulls bring a real professional showing to the event. Karl Platt is a German rider who bought his first mountain bike in 1991 – and that is where it all started. Platt became German Junior Champion in downhill, National Champion Cross Country and German Enduro Champion. Platt has also won the Cape Epic four times – in 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2010. Not only has he conquered the Cape Epic, but he has also won the TransAlp Race seven times. His team mate for The Munga will be Thomas Dietsch, a 4-time Vainqueur Forestiere, as well as Champion de France Marathon winner, is a French born cyclist who currently rides for Team Bulls and is also active in other athletic disciplines including: cross country skiing, running and trail. Dietsch seems to have permanent ownership of the French XCM Champions jersey.
Given the off-beat nature, as well as the race format, which has been designed to level the playing field for all riders regardless of their cycling discipline – it is impossible to predict a winner before the finish line is crossed. For this reason The Munga is definitely one of those races that begs the question – could it be me?
“Having riders of this calibre and with the diversity of our entrants, it is certainly exciting as not only does it stand testament to The Munga’s credibility as a world class race to ride in, but will definitely create a dynamic riding environment – combining world champions with ultra-endurance, hard riding enthusiasts. This is anyone’s race!”
“As we head rapidly towards the race in December, the anticipation is mounting to find out who the well-deserved winner is that we will hand $750 000 over to,” concludes Harris.
Notably absent from the listed riders is a strong women’s team. And beyond the personal challenge, why would a funding starved professional marathon or ultra endurance rider enter? The lion’s share of the prize pool ($750 000)is for the outright winner, which even for the best women, is far from a likely outcome. There is no publicised women’s prize category, and in this regard, the ‘forward thinking’ team behind the Munga seem to have sent the sport a long way backwards compared to all the events that now offer equal prize money for women.