Seen here (from left to right):
Luca Ruwiel and Cherise Willet / Photo Credit: Chris Hitchcock
The Fedhealth MTB Challenge Kids Events / David Sullivan
Root44 was buzzing with excitement on Saturday 09 September 2023 when mountain bikers of all ages converged on the iconic Winelands landmark to participate in the 8th annual Fedhealth MTB Challenge.
Launched in 2015, the Fedhealth MTB Challenge caters for mountain bikers of all ages and capabilities, with routes boasting well-manicured, sensational single track and magnificent views. Mountain bikers could choose between a +-15km Fun Ride, +-30km Half Marathon and +-60km Marathon, while junior mountain biking enthusiasts could test their skill in the 5km, 1.5km and 500m Fedhealth MTB Challenge Kids Events.
Luca Ruwiel (Welgemoed, Bellville) and Cherise Willet (Somerset West) set the routes on fire in the Fedhealth MTB Challenge Marathon (+-60km) Men’s and Women’s Race respectively.
“I’ve been entering Marathons as part of my training to keep it interesting,” said Ruwiel. “Moving the event from Sunday to Saturday (due to the weather forecast) worked better for me in terms of training. I’m not familiar with these trails, but it was a good mix of single track and jeep track climbs. I enjoyed the single track. It feels great to win today, especially because I had Matthew Beers behind me. I look forward to popping into Root44 now to get something to eat.” Ruwiel crossed the finish line first in 02 hours 22 minutes 30 seconds. Matthew Beers came in second, while Franko Van Zyl finished third.
“I was really excited to do this race, it’s on my doorstep,” said Willet after crossing the finish line in 02 hours 50 minutes 50 seconds. “I was hesitant when I saw the weather for Sunday, but very happy that the organisers took the initiative to look at the weather and change the date. I know a lot of the trails, but I have never done all the trails on one day. It was quite a shock to the system, and I didn’t expect the climbs to be that steep. I managed to get a gap quite early in the beginning and just worked hard to keep the pace up. I know that Hayley Preen is a very strong rider and never gives up, so I had to dig deep. The new venue is amazing. It’s such a spectacular thing if you can make cycling events family friendly. For Stillwater Sports, Fedhealth and Root44 to team up and host an event where you can bring your whole family, and everyone can have fun is such a big win. I will be back next year.” Hayley Preen came in second, while Lehane Oosthuizen finished third.
Deniel Du Plessis (Stellenbosch) claimed gold in the Fedhealth MTB Challenge Half Marathon (+-30km) Men’s Race in a lightening fast time of 01 hour 18 minutes 34 seconds.
“I wasn’t sure about the competition today, I just wanted to enjoy the route,” says Du Plessis. “The route was nice and scenic. It feels good to cross the finish line first.” Ayola Noyakaza came in second, while Peter Lumley finished third.
Ilze Coetzee (Meerenhof, Bellville) was the female rider to beat crossing the finish line in 01 hour 44 minutes 09 seconds. “I entered because of my brother-in-law who recently got into cycling, he’s obsessed with the sport. So now we try to do family events. The route was awesome. I liked the fact that the climbing was in the beginning and then at the end the single track was cool. I’m really impressed with the trails at Root44. So, all in all fantastic. It feels cool to cross the finish line first. It’s my first win.” Taryn Brown came in second, while Lauren Coetzee finished third.
Xander Jacobs was the Fun Ride (+-15km) Rider to beat in the Men’s Race with his finishing time of 47 minutes 35 seconds. Joshua Purdue came in second, while Rayneill Smith finished third.
Edna Ytier claimed the top spot on the podium in the Women’s Race in 53 minutes 03 seconds. Bianca Hibbert came in second, while Suzanne Dingley finished third.
“Saturday saw mountain bikers of all ages and fitness levels descend upon Root44 Market for the 2023 Fedhealth MTB Challenge – our first time at this fantastic venue in Stellenbosch. Even though we had to move our 60km and 30km events to Saturday due to heavy rain predicted for Sunday, we trust all participants had as much fun as we did… from riding their hearts out on the scenic tracks to unwinding post-race with a scrumptious snack or a refreshing drink. Thank you for joining us – keep up that fitness and we’ll hopefully see you again next year!” says Jeremy Yatt, Fedhealth Principal Officer.
The Fedhealth MTB Challenge Kids Events were once again a source of excitement and a highlight on the day.
“We were delighted to see so many young MTB riders join us at the 2023 Fedhealth MTB Challenge Kids Events in Stellenbosch,” continues Yatt. “It’s never too early to introduce kids to an active lifestyle, and events like these provide an easy way to do so. We hope our junior mountain bikers had fun on the trails and enjoyed relaxing with their parents afterwards too. See you all again next year and bring your buddies!”
CHARITY SUPPORT: When entering the 2023 Fedhealth MTB Challenge online, mountain biking enthusiasts could show their support for The Kindness Collaboration, the chosen charity of this fun-filled family event. Founded by Fedhealth and Operation Healing Hands (OHH), The Kindness Collaboration offers much needed support to South Africans who cannot afford quality medical care.