- COVID-19 pivots a decade-old South African endurance cycling event into a global virtual Challenge.
- The Challenge featured runs and or rides of various distances as a fundraiser to help break the cycle of poverty and inequality in South Africa.
- Local and international sports stars supported the Challenge including Cricket Legend Matthew Hayden, former Protea cricket players, the Sharks rugby team and the AmaZulu Football Club.
- Youngest entrant in the event was five-years-old and the oldest 81-years-old.
“It felt amazing to do the Challenge and be a part of something this big,” said an exhausted 11-year old Durbanite Ayanda White as she stepped off a treadmill located at the entrance to the SUPERSPAR Knowles in Pinetown, KZN, South Africa.
Joining hundreds of runners and cyclists from South Africa and around the world, Ayanda signed up for her first virtual event, the Mr Price Foundation Challenge on December 5 and 6.
The inaugural fundraising event in partnership with Comrades Marathon was hosted to help break the cycle of poverty and inequality in South Africa through the Mr Price Foundation’s high impact education and skills development programmes.
Young and old, both ordinary citizens and sporting heroes donned their running shoes or rode their bikes across various distances ranging from 3km to 606km, for the Challenge with purpose.
While the Challenge attracted many youngsters, such as seven-year old Charlotte McGregor who cycled 10km on Durban’s promenade and five-year old Mark Ehlers who ran 3km with his father in Kloof, it was contrasted with retired sporting legends also taking up the fight against poverty
Seventy-one year old Derrick Tivers rode over 100 km on his ‘old-school’ rollers. Tivers has twice cycled the Ride for Mr Price Foundation, a two-day 606km cycle ride from Secunda to Durban. He also has several medals to his credit from the Comrades Marathon, including two gold, eight silver and one bronze.
On opposite ends of Durban, two groups of young development cyclists also tackled the Challenge with unbridled energy on Sunday December 6. Led by cycling coaches Siyabonga Njiva and Cayde Muldoon of the GO!Durban Cycle Academy, a peloton of 25 cyclists completed 80km riding from Home Bru Graft Cafe in Umhlanga to the Durban promenade.
In Mpumalanga township, Hammarsdale, young cyclists from the KZN Cycling Development Trust took to the tar to ride their 10km to help empower South Africa’s youth. The group included 19-year old Unathi Nxumalo who successfully completed the 606km Ride with Purpose in 2019. The youngsters ended their ride demonstrating their adeptness on a cross-country track built by children from the Children of Destiny At Home (CODAH), a bicycle initiative in the area, started in 2014.
The Gauteng province featured the oldest participant, 81-year old Jannie Pieters completing a 21km run in 3 hours 31 minutes and 19 seconds. The youngest entrant was 5-year old Dante Cruz Mannen, who completed a 3km ride on the Umhlanga promenade. Proud mum Adine Mannen said, “Dante was super excited and he was training from a week before the Challenge. This will be his first medal for a public event!”
Seasoned Comrades veteran, Grace de Oliveira, who posted a video of herself running the Challenge with her young granddaughter attracted thousands of views on social media. Grace has won seven gold and three silver Comrades medals over the years and has been fervently supportive of the Challenge with purpose.
With contrasting temperatures to the Southern hemisphere, Sara Wasilausky (New York City), Bradley Rowlett (UK) and Henk Vos (Holland) braved the cold to icy conditions to complete the Challenge. Former Australian cricketer Matthew Hayden also participated in the event in Brisbane, challenging other cricketers and sporting greats to join the cause.
Karen Wells, Head of the Mr Price Foundation who was overwhelmed by the interest and support the virtual event received, said “Whether it was 3km or 300km, regardless of the distance covered, we are thankful for every single entry, every single step taken, and every young South African’s life that will be impacted as a result of your support through our high impact education and skills development programmes. With entries from Australia, the USA, Sweden, Germany, the UAE, Canada, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and of course sunny South Africa, thank you for making this a truly global Challenge. We look forward to you taking on the Challenge once again next year!”
Due to the impact of the Covid19 pandemic, the decade-old Ride for Mr Price Foundation from Secunda to Durban, pivoted into a virtual run/ride this year, opening the field to more entrants across the world.
The Mr Price Foundation Challenge, in partnership with Comrades Marathon, was made possible with funding and support from partners the SPAR Group, Absa Bank, TraderPlus, Expandasign and Mr Price Sport.
Image Caption: Young cyclists from KZN Cycling Development Trust showing off their skills on a cycling track built by children from Children of Destiny At Home (CODAH) a bicycle initiative started in Mpumalanga, Hammarsdale in 2014. Image: Tim Lubbe