Tension is mounting countrywide with the 2016 Spur High Schools League National Finals, to be hosted at Bekker School in Magaliesberg in October, around the corner. This weekend riders in Mpumalanga will have the last opportunity to log points for their schools in an attempt to qualify for the event.
More than 60 schools participated in the 2016 season and a good turn-out is expected for the finals that will once again be hosted at Mankele Mountain Bike Park outside Nelspruit on Saturday, 24 September.
The League runs on the Olympic Cross Country (XCO) lap-racing format whereby participants complete a set number of laps, determined by age category, of a short mountain bike course. Lap distances are between three and five kilometres.
Registration will start from 07h00 with course open for practice until 08h45. The first race for the little 7-year old sub nipper boys and girls at 09h00, followed by the 8 to 10 year old nipper boys and girls at 09h20 and the 11 to 12 year old sprog boys and girls wrapping up the primary school races for the day at 09h45.
High school racing will start at 10h30 with the sub junior boys and girls (13 to 14 years) who is expected to complete the track in an estimated 35 to 45 minutes. The youth women (15 to 16 years) and junior girls (17 to 18 years) will race together at 11h30 and should complete the race in between 40 to 50 minutes. Exciting racing is expected in the final race of the day and Mpumalanga season, when the youth (15 to 16 years) and junior (17 to 18 years) boys at 12h30 take to track.
Heading into this weekend’s final, Lydenburg High School is in a comfortable lead with an impressive 821 points and likely to defend their title as regional champions.
Lydenburg High School has also been the proud winners of the “geesbeker” at the Spur High Schools MTB Final two years running.
Schools earn points for every single participant, but better results earn more points, which add team spirit and boosts the determination of most riders. Nelspruit High School is currently lying second with 454 points, Uplands College third with 342 points, Secunda High School fourth with 276 points and Rob Ferreira filling the fifth spot with 264 points.
Since its humble beginnings with approximately 900 riders in 2009, the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League has grown beyond expectations. This year it featured 45 events, an estimated 500 schools and 10 000 MTB enthusiasts competing across the country.
According to league director, Meurant Botha of Amarider, participation at local events has shown a steady growth. He further states that although there are many kids finding their competitive edge on their bicycles, the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League’s focus is still to encourage more kids on bikes, more schools in action. “It is important for all children to enjoy participating whether only starting out or having participated for a couple seasons,” says Botha.
This year has also seen the introduction of Team Spur, James Reid and Ariane Kleinhans, who play the important role of encouraging League riders to follow their dreams and showing the reality of becoming sponsored athletes. Local riders will have the opportunity meet these amazing athletes at Saturday’s Mpumalanga final.