The 17th edition of the Desert Dash mountain bike race will this year commence on 10 December and end on 11 December.
The 393km race takes riders from Windhoek’s Grove Mall to Swakopmund’s Platz Am Meer complex, and will see participants cycle over the Khomas-Hochland Mountains, through the Namib Desert to the Atlantic coast.
Sponsored by Nedbank Namibia for the seventh year, the race is one of the world’s longest single-stage mountain bike race, taking riders over treacherous terrains, strong wind, hot weather and sometimes rain.
Over 1 000 riders from among others, Namibia, South Africa, Malawi, the United States, Germany, Portugal, Britain, France, Serbia, Canada, Ireland, Belgium, and Botswana will compete, and have to finish the race within 24 hours.
The categories are solo riders, two-person teams, and four-person teams.
Nedbank’s Namibia executive Richard Meeks said the event adds value in unearthing more talent, whilst contributing to local economies.
“Namibia’s developing reputation as a competent host of major cycling events is evidenced by its staging of International Cycling Union (UCI) sanctioned races. As you may know, earlier this year, five Namibian cyclists qualified to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games,” he said during the event’s launch yesterday.
Meeks added that this is testimony to the fact that Namibian cycling has come a long way, and has gained well-deserved recognition on a continental and worldwide scale.
The Nedbank Desert Dash also helps to increase the support rendered to small businesses in Swakopmund, such as adventure tours and massage parlours.
“We are confident the race has a significant and wide-ranging influence on the economy of Swakopmund, and that it provides an ideal opportunity to promote Namibia as a fascinating tourist destination to the international cycling communities,” Meeks noted.
Also speaking at the launch, executive director in the sports ministry, Audrin Mathe was delighted to see how the sport has evolved over the past years, saying he would love more sport codes to move in that direction and help with the professionalisation of sport in the country.
“I am pleased to see how this event attracts international participants, which is good for our country. We are delighted to see how the organisers will host this event while complying with the health and regulations of Covid-19,” he said.
Meanwhile, Swakopmund Municipality CEO Archie Benjamin said this is an event of great importance as it brings international tourists to the town, which is of great benefit.
“The Nedbank Desert Dash is unique as it brings international visibility to Namibia. On behalf of the Swakopmund community, we want to express our heartily welcome to all the cyclists, their teams, and supporters that will be coming to the town,” he said.
The Nedbank Desert Dash is co-sponsored by Indongo Toyota, SuperSpar, Maerua, The Grove and Bokomo.