The memory of Springbok rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen will hover over the Liberty Winelands Encounter next month when the J9 Foundation cycling team take part in the event for the first time. Presented by ASG Events in partnership with STANLIB, the three-stage mountain bike race starting on April 21 will take riders through spectacular trails in the Cape Winelands just over two months after Van der Westhuizen passed away from motor neurone disease (MND). The team of Cape Town lawyer Dirk Kotze and Namgear cycling equipment company boss Marius Bronkhorst will represent the foundation at the race, with raising awareness of MND their chief priority. "Most people, of course, know of Joost and when they see our kit with the J9 Foundation logo there is always a lot of talk about what we are trying to do," said the 35-year-old Kotze from Bellville. "People usually ask us if we are riding for the foundation and if they do not know much about it, it provides us with a chance to inform them what it is all about." Kotze explained that the J9 Foundation was formed by the 1995 World Cup-winning star after he was diagnosed with MND in early 2011. He added that the foundation aided those suffering from the disease and helped with MND research. "The foundation have 29 beneficiaries and care for over 40 families who are affected by MND," he said. Having entered a number of races including the Cape Epic in the last three years, Kotze said their main priority was creating awareness of MND rather than raising funds. "However, we do have a snapscan logo on our left arm and anybody who wants to donate some money can do so by scanning the code with their cellphone." Kotze will experience the Liberty Winelands Encounter for the first time and said he was looking forward to the challenge after taking up mountain biking in 2013. Following a year of competing in various events with regular partner Brendan Snyman, the pair decided they wanted to ride . . .
The FNB Madibaz Young Guns will take a positive approach into their make-or-break FNB Varsity Cup rugby encounter against the unbeaten Stellenbosch outfit on the NMMU B field on Monday at 14:15. Following a bonus-point win over UCT last week, Madibaz stumbled somewhat on Monday when they lost 26-15 to the Cape Town side in their return match. This means they are lying third in the section, but coach Zane Bosch said they could still figure in the play-offs if they put in a winning performance against Maties. "We know it will not be easy against a strong Maties side but there is a positive spirit in the camp and the players are fired up to do well in this game," he said. "If we are able to pull off a win, we will still have a mathematical chance of qualifying for the semifinals if some of the other results go our way." The three section winners - Maties, Free State and UP-Tuks - have qualified for the last four and they will be joined by the best second-placed team. Bosch said they were looking forward to playing on their home ground on Monday and although they were well beaten by Maties in their earlier game, he took some positives from that encounter. "We competed well in the scrums and lineouts and were able to score a few tries. But our defence was lacking." That was Madibaz's first game of the season and Bosch said he had seen a "vast improvement" in the team's performances since then. He said, however, he would be calling for greater discipline from his players after they were punished with three yellow cards against UCT this week. "Playing into the wind, we trailed only 8-2 (penalties in Varsity Cup are worth two points) at halftime, but then we had three yellow cards and that really cost us dearly," said Bosch. "We know we have our backs to the wall against Maties but the guys are determined to show what they can do." The match will start at 2.15pm and will be followed by the Steinhoff Koshuis premiership match between . . .
Professional mountain biker Pieter Seyffert will be returning to the scene of one of his favourite races when he and teammate Travis Walker tackle the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek at the end of May. The 30-year-old Seyffert, from Helderkruin in the West Rand, was the champion in 2015 when he partnered Kevin Evans to a narrow win over Chris Wolhuter and Andrew Hill. Now he - supported by a new partner - will be back for the three-stage race at the Zuurberg Mountain Village outside Port Elizabeth from May 26 in a bid to reclaim his title. The pair showed their ability as a mountain bike combination when they dominated the seven-day TransCape between Knysna and Franschhoek last month. Riding under the Ellsworth-ASG banner, Seyffert said they would definitely be aiming to finish on the podium in the Eastern Cape race. "At this stage of his career Travis is very focused on doing well and that rubs off on me, helping me to stay focused too," said Seyffert. "It is always good to try to get that exposure, not only for us as cyclists, but also for those who are backing us." Walker, who hails from Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal, returned to South Africa this year after spending several years competing in Europe and will be racing the Zuurberg event for the first time. However, Seyffert felt the talented rider would have no problem adapting to the course. "Travis has spent the last two years in Italy riding some of the world's toughest events and, as one of the younger riders, he finished in the top 10 in his first appearance in the Cape Epic in 2015," he said. "He is a talented mountain biker and I have no doubt he will be able to handle any course he tackles." Seyffert added that the more technical parts of the route would suit Walker's skills as he came from a cross country background. Reflecting on his previous experience of the race, the West Rand pro said he particularly enjoyed the overall route offering, which took in remote sections of the Addo . . .
Most mountain bikers probably follow the normal course of the popular red route in the Harkerville forest outside Knysna, but Garden Route 300 race director Patric Mosterd feels they have hit on a winner by doing it in reverse. After changing the direction of the 24km loop over the past two years when it formed part of the race's first stage, Mosterd said they would persist with that option when the three-day race is staged from April 28. He said the red route would therefore again form part of the feature event's 75km opening stage, after which riders would tackle 50km and 75km stages on days two and three. "What is nice about doing the red route in reverse is that it makes the section completely different from the normal offering," said Mosterd. "Everyone loves riding in the Harkerville forest and the red route is an iconic trail in our area. "It puts a different spin on the opening day and it flows quite nicely with the rest of the stage, which has amazing forest scenery. It's been a winner and something we are sticking with." Besides the red route, Mosterd said the nature of the stage enhanced their objectives of providing the riders with a memorable mountain biking experience. "The route does undulate quite a lot because you can't get away from the fact that the area surrounding Knysna is very mountainous," he said. "Many of the routes are natural single-track and pretty soft underfoot, which means there is not much danger of encountering tricky rocky conditions." Most of day one, he added, flowed under the tree canopy, exposing riders to trails through Knysna's spectacular indigenous forests. "This includes long stretches of single-track covering about 8km at a time, which is genuine forest riding," said Mosterd. "Not only are there the Harkerville trails which were purpose-built, but the route also takes riders on natural trails created by people who harvested trees in the past and dragged them through the forest." After . . .
A major Varsity Cup rugby derby is looming in Gauteng on Monday when in-form teams University of Johannesburg and Wits square up in a televised clash at the UJ Stadium. The home side are in the better position on the log, having risen to third place following four wins in a row, while Wits, with three wins and three defeats, are in sixth place after the seventh round of the competition. UJ coach Werner Janse van Rensburg is preparing his troops for a serious scrap, noting that the last time they played Wits in the Varsity Cup resulted in a narrow win in 2014. "Firstly, we are grateful just to be in our current position and we are obviously excited to be involved in a big derby on Monday," he said. "They are a team at the peak of their powers with a great attitude and intent. They will be solid in all aspects of the game, which will force us to step up a further five per cent from our previous performances." The UJ coach said he would be urging his players not to get ahead of themselves, knowing that anything can happen in this competition. "We have to stay true to what we do because this is a new week and history counts for nothing. "We have to be at our best and, as a unit, have the willingness to go the extra mile." Janse van Rensburg said playing at home would not necessarily give them any major advantage because the nature of the Varsity Cup meant teams had to learn to perform under a variety of conditions. After suffering two losses early in the season, UJ maintained the momentum they had built up from three successive wins with a resounding 40-12 win over UCT in Cape Town this week. It was a result which Janse van Rensburg described as "very enjoyable" after the team executed their game plan to near perfection. "We had a plan of how to approach the extreme wind conditions at UCT which we gradually started to introduce about three weeks ago," he said. "We were grateful that most of it worked effectively on the day and the . . .
A record 67 teams descended on the annual SPAR Madibaz Netball Tournament at NMMU's South Campus this past weekend, with the hosts triumphing in four sections. Madibaz teams won the A, A reserve, B and C sections, while Despatch took the honours in the D category. Phoenix won the men's tournament. Madibaz netball manager Melinda Goosen said the event, which was added to the calendar in 2005, had shown tremendous growth over the years. According to her, the organisers were forced to add an additional day for the first time this year to accommodate the field. "Previously, the tournament always took place on a Saturday but, due to the increase in the number of teams, we decided that it would be beneficial to include an additional day." Despite adding extra sessions on the Friday afternoon and evening, she said they were still forced to decline applications of several teams due to limited courts and time slots. Goosen attributed much of the tournament's success to its timing. "It takes place at the beginning of the season, which means it allows coaches an opportunity to test their teams before the official season gets under way." She said the tournament was aimed at clubs and schools from the larger Eastern Cape area. "We accommodate all sections and levels of play and having schools take part offers another avenue for the growth of the tournament." This year's edition included schools from Nelson Mandela Bay and the Grahamstown area. "We only market it to the greater Eastern Cape region and the fact that we have had such a great response, especially this year, shows how important it is to have such an event," said Goosen. "With SPAR as our partners, we have been lucky to create a tournament in which clubs want to participate." Goosen said the event was not only important for the university, but for the region as a whole. "It is an obligation we have to our fellow clubs." She said their focus would now be to get even more teams . . .
The popular FALKE Trail Run Series presented by Dirtopia will once again offer keen outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful trails in the Stellenbosch Winelands. The 2017 FALKE Tail Run Series sets off on Saturday, 18 March with the Harvest Run at the historic Le Bonheur, which means happiness. Dating back to the 1790's hand sorting the grapes has remained a tradition and a trade mark. Enjoy this rare opportunity to be part of the harvest time in the winelands. The single track route offers awesome views and run through the forest just above the cellar. Pre-entries close on Thursday, 16 March at a cost of R90 for the 5km, R110 for the 9km and R135 for the 14km and can be done online at www.dirtopia.co.za . Late entries will be taken on event day, if available with additional late entry fees applicable. Registration is from 07h00 with the first race setting off at 08h00. Also diarise Sunday, 7 May for the second FALKE Trail run of the season and experience the splendour of autumn while running at the picturesque Peter Falke Wines. Nestled against the majestic slopes of the Helderberg mountains, the farm offers the perfect canvas for nature to paint its autumn colours and for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy a trail run in the winelands before winter settles in. Dating back to the 18th century, the traditional gabled Cape Dutch buildings of the wine estate belie a contrasting modernity within. The stately old homestead is partnered by a "boutique" winery, contemporary wine tasting room, gift shop and luxurious outdoor lounge. The rolling lawn is the perfect spot to relax with friends and family after the trail run. Don your running shoes and make the most of the beautiful winter days in the winelands and enter the FALKE Winter Trail Run at Warwick Wine Estate outside Stellenbosch on Sunday, 9 July. Appropriately dubbed the wine adventure run as Warwick not only offers magnificent trails and views, but the hospitality at a . . .
PIETERMARITZBURG, KZN, 14 MARCH 2017–This past weekend (11 – 12 March), saw Emerald Resort and Casino in Vanderbijlparkplay host to Race #2 of the Toyota Warrior Race, powered by Reebok. The return of the Warrior Race to the heart of the Vaal Triangle attracted over 4000 obstacle course racerslooking to tackle the infamous Warrior Race known for its well-built obstacles and multiple race formats. The Jeep Team athletes performed at optimum throughout the weekend, starting with the Ladies Reebok Sprint and the Team Reebok Sprint - a new, short,high-intensive course spanning 400m with 10 obstacles, a great warm up for the elite Jeep Team athletes. Jeep Team athlete and Top 3 2016 SA OCR Champion, Carina Marx,finished 2nd in Ladies Reebok Sprinton the Saturday, and in the Mixed Team, she raced with Jeep Team SA mates, Thomas van Tonder and Joshua Masudi, finishing 2nd overall. Says Marx,“The Reebok Sprint racing was a first for me. It was a great warm up but also lots of fun. Just had to make sure I didn’t pick up an injury prior to the Black Ops Elite race.Racing with my team mates was good fun, and we picked up 2nd place against some tough competition.” On Sunday saw the tough,world-OCR-benchmark race, Black Ops Elite, featuringsome 30 obstacles over 17km, designed to challenge South Africa’s top OCR athletes in thirty different ways fromendurance, strength and agility, to upper body strength, and carrying and dragging heavy objects for set distances. Jeep Team OCR athleteand 2016 SA OCR Men’s Champion, Thomas van Tonder, finished 2ndin the Black Ops Elite race in 01:30:08, behind eventual winner, Claude Eksteen in 01:29:02, withLouis Smitrounding off the podium in 01:30:43. Says Van Tonder:“I’m super proud of our SA Jeep Team after some solid racing. I’m happy to have finished second in the Black Ops Elite after a rookie mistake. I was so focused on chasing “the Flash” Claude Eksteen,that I got to the end of BreakingPoint and never rang the bell. . . .
Next month's Garden Route 300 will be "more compact" to offer an even purer mountain biking experience in the Knysna forest from April 28 to 30. The three-stage race, which also occupies a new slot on the calendar, will comprise a feature event over a total of 200km as well as a Lite version of 170km. Race director Patric Mosterd, of Garden Route Events, said by shortening the two races they were able to cut out portions that did not necessarily add value to any of them. "By doing this, we are left with only the good stuff as we pursue a truly pure mountain biking experience." Mosterd said the GR300, as it is known these days, would still remain a genuine test. "Just because it comprises fewer kilometres, does not mean it is any less of a challenge," he said. "Basically it is a case of fewer kilos but more quality and I can assure you that the riders will be pleased to see the finish line each day." He said the more compact stages do however shorten time spent in the saddle, making it more accessible to participants who would have been on the edge of their ability previously. The idea, he said, was that the shorter days would be an additional incentive for prospective participants to try out the Garden Route event for the first time. "We really want to share this gem of a riding area with as many people as possible." With the event initially taking place at the height of summer as a precursor to races like the Cape Epic, Mosterd said there was a feeling that the original distances were just too far for its current slot - especially being in a mountainous area. "We think the event is now doable for a broader spectrum of riders instead of just a select few. We hope many more can now enjoy the experience with us." He said the stage distances of the feature event would be 75km, 50km and 75km. Mosterd said the Lite version, which was introduced three years ago as an alternative to the main race, would also have a facelift. "The . . .
This year’s South Coast Bike Fest #SCBF2017 is the ultimate destination for every biker, offering high energy sports’ action, phenomenal musical acts and some of the region’s most exquisite countryside rides and entertaining parades. “We are really excited to welcome visitors to this magnificent part of South Africa which has so much to offer,” said Justin Mackrory, CEO of UGU South Coast Tourism, sponsors of the event. “In addition to the beautiful beaches, the South Coast boasts impressive landscape characterised by hills, valleys, idyllic water features and natural coastal vegetation. It is the perfect setting for some amazing bike rides, all of which can be carefully navigated using maps provided.” Bikers will have the perfect opportunity during the #SCBF2017 – taking place at Margate from 27 to 30 April – to explore the local rides. There are endless routes along the coastal road as well as rides through the countryside, allowing bikers to experience roads less travelled amid arresting natural beauty. Only 9km inland of Shelly Beach, on the Izotsha-Paddock Road, bikers can visit Nyandezulu which is encompassed by sprawling green hills and breathtaking valleys. Visitors will enjoy authentic Zulu hospitality while discovering local arts and crafts, sampling the local brew at a tavern or even stopping in to see a traditional healer. Crossing the Ntantana Mountain is one of the South Coast’s hidden gems - the 80m high Nyandezulu Waterfall which makes for spectacular photographs. Continue along the winding scenic route to a Shembe Church atop the holy uMdlungwana Mountain where lunch can be enjoyed along the riverbank. Take a ride to the nearby coastal town of Port Edward which offers visitors fantastic aquatic entertainment at its beaches, enticing estuary and the Wild Waves Water Park. This coastal gem is also home to the Red Desert which, at 200 metres wide, has been named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s smallest desert. The . . .