GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - One of the Garden Route's most picturesque races, the Kingfisher Challenge, will take place on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 March.
The annual Kingfisher Challenge race is a fundraising initiative of Hoekwil Primary School. This small farm school hosts 150 learners from the village, surrounding farms and local settlements, and relies heavily on private funding to remain open.
For the past 15 years, the Kingfisher Challenge has played a critical role in generating these much-needed funds. There will be a lot to do for non-participants, including kiddies' activities, live entertainment, a Friday Night Market, delicious food stalls, a beer tent and a covered marquee, ensuring everybody stays dry.
The main changes to the Kingfisher 2017 are better layouts at the start and finish. This year, the trail run and mountain bike race will start at the border line of The Oakhurst Farm and Bergplaas Forest, making this year a completely off road challenge.
There too the route has changed and riders can look forward to new previously unused routes with lots of fast undulating roads, high contour tracks and slightly easier climbs, but you'll still recognise the familiar river crossings and waterfalls in exquisite indigenous forest. It returns to Hoekwil through the farms on more custom made flowing single tracks.
There are seven mountain bike races in total, five of which are geared towards families and kids. These include the 10km fun ride for the more serious younger riders between 7 and 11 years old, as well as non-competitive adults race for those who just want to be part of the Kingfisher Challenge and experience the beauty and fun vibe.
There's also a 20 km route, ideal for nippers and novice riders from 12 years up; the 3 km children's race for kids aged 6-12 years; and the 50 m kiddies' scooter dash for kids aged 2-5 years.
In addition to these races, there is also a 40 km route, suitable for novice riders looking for a good challenge but without the intensity of the longer route, and the more technical 70 km route, designed specifically for competitive riders with a 30 km loop through the Bergplaas State Forest in the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains.
A fantastic collection of prizes, including cash prizes for the first place winners and hampers for 2nd and 3rd place winners, can be won. Medals are awarded to all trail run entrants as well as MTB entrants for the 10 km, 20km, 40km and 70km races. The toddlers will be thrilled to receive their surprise lucky packet at the finish line.
The hugely successful trail runs, introduced as part of last year's broader Kingfisher MTB event, are also on the cards for Friday 17 March.
These include an 8km run and a 16km run along part of the 20km mountain bike race route and other unique sections of forest. All runners will register and meet at Hoekwil Primary School between 15:00 and 16:00, where they will jump into farm trucks sponsored by Peter Leppan from the Mandalay Farm and be ferried 8 km's to the starting line at Bergplaas. The starting time will be 16:30.
The Kingfisher MTB is registered with the SA Cycling Federation.
Cyclists can now register online at www.chaingangevents.co.za or on 17 March from 14:00 until 16:00 and on 18 March from 06:00am to 07:45am. No registration is required for the kiddies' scooter dash.
The 70 km race kicks off at 08:00, the 40 km at 08:15 am, the 20 km at 08:30 and the children's races at 08:45.
For mountain bike riders, an organised vehicle shuttle service will be available at R50 should you need your car to be transported from Bergplaas to the finish line at Hoekwil Primary School.