The KAP sani2c first took place in 2005, and while it is one of the oldest mountain bike stage races in South Africa, it also became the largest over time and in 2018 and 2019 there were up to 4200 riders enjoying three days of flowing trails in three different versions of the event, which traverses spectacular trails from Himeville in the southern Drakensberg down to Scottburgh on the KZN south coast.
In the early days, there was only the Race, and it became so popular that the Adventure was added in 2008. Entries were opened to previous year’s riders only and the Adventure filled within minutes of opening. This, together with many requests from organizations wanting to get involved, prompted the sani2c team to look at the inclusion of a third event, and in 2012 the Trail was added.
Each event developed its own unique character and started attracting a different kind of rider. Some would say the Trail attracted the newbies, the Adventure drew the “old boys’ club” and the Race was for the snakes, the pros or those who just love to race hard. This has evolved over time and the participants are now largely determined by space, as the event has recently scaled down and the entries are again in high demand.
In 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdowns and restrictions on numbers of participants at sports events, the 2020 KAP sani2c was held in December with only 500 riders per event, and only two events took place, the Adventure and the Race. In 2021, founder Glen Haw and the sani2c team decided to keep only two versions of the event and the numbers were again limited, this time to 1000 riders per event. Both for riders and for the organisers and service providers, this scale of sani2c proved to be a ‘sweet spot’ and it has been decided to keep this in place going forward for 2022.
“From an experience, hospitality and route point of view there is no difference between the two events,” says Glen.
“Each event follows exactly the same route to the sea, experiences the same race village vibe and great community inspired hospitality,” he says.
A clear distinction between the Adventure and the Race is the fact that the Race is where you will find the professional athletes and part-time or ‘working pros’. The tough competition is experienced at the front end of the Race and creates a buzz around who is in the lead after each stage.
Those looking to have a good time and ride the trails for fun can be found towards the middle and back of the field in the Race, enjoying the vibe of the race while not feeling any pressure for speed. In fact, in recent years, the slowest finishing times came from the Race and not the Adventure.
For many corporate and other large groups, the Adventure has become a tradition, where colleagues and friends spend three days riding the trails but also recount the fun of the experience over a few beers in the afternoon. This can be your experience at the Race as well.
With the smaller number of entries available in each event, the Adventure is sold out for the 2022 edition. There is space in the Race, so riders who have previously done the Adventure and are concerned about the Race being a different experience, should make the switch for 2022 and see that all levels of riders are well catered for at both events.
KAP sani2c is for many the one event in the stage race calendar that they just can’t miss. George de Beer from Durban has completed every sani2c since 2005, and remembers well the early days: “We arrived at Underberg school and we didn’t have a place to stay and snuck into the hostel to spend the night. One year we slept in the chicken run at Jolivet farm.”
Of course today the fantastic facilities and hospitality of the sani2c are well known. The large scale of the event in previous years enabled the organisers to build permanent structures such as hot showers and dining halls, all of which add to the special vibe of the race villages.
The sani2c of today continues the original mission of the event: the support of local communities, especially schools. All services to riders are provided by volunteers in aid of their schools and NGOs. For the Haw family, this legacy is as important as providing the best 3 days of riding that a mountain biker can ask for.