The renowned sani2c route starts at the base of the Sani Pass and finishes in Scottburgh on the South Coast, covering 265 kms including the mighty ‘Umko Drop’, a bucket-list descent that brings riders back year after year to the three-day version, the Adventure and Race events. The nonstop edition is a teamed mountain bike marathon event covering a distance of 250 kms, that must be completed within 24 hours.
The nonstop version of sani2c was successfully re-introduced last year - there had been a nonstop event included in 2007 - 2009, but the organisers focused on the stage race for many years, entrenching it as one of SA’s most-loved stage races. With endurance events becoming more popular, demand was high for the nonstop to return, and it now covers most of the iconic sani2c route with a lot more single track than in the early days.
According to Martin Camp, a seven times sani2c rider who took part in last year’s nonstop and will line up next weekend, the nonstop is like no other race: “I've done other one day endurance events and it sort of compares to that, but this is really single track, nighttime riding. It is very, very exciting compared to most of the gravel races that go through the night, normally done on roads. To be in those forestry areas at nighttime, doing the bridge crossing at nighttime, is incredibly special, and unique.”
The PG Bison floating bridge is crossed at night during the KAP sani2c nonstop
One of the things that makes the sani2c nonstop different is its format. With each team comprising either two, three or four cyclists, plus a support crew and one vehicle, it is a true test of partnerships, endurance and commitment, with the emphasis on team effort and cooperation. Many riders ask if they can ride this event solo. For safety reasons the event insists on a team format, and all members of the team need to complete the 250 km to qualify as official finishers.
All nonstop riders will go down into the Umko Valley and a 2 am start is geared to have all the riders descend in daylight, both for safety reasons and because the views are just spectacular. Riders will climb out of the valley before they cross the Umkomaas River, so the Unitrans Iconic Climb is not included.
All riders should experience the renowned ‘Umko Drop’ in daylight
Camp says: “You stop and have a quick egg and bacon burger at Mackenzie Club, having completed the day one equivalent in the dark, and then you drop down into the valley. I think what makes it so exciting is that there are so few people on the track, you really get to ride at your own pace. Sometimes at sani2c you get restricted because there are so many riders on the course, but at nonstop you really, really feel you're doing it by yourself because the teams spread out fairly quickly at the start.”
Your support vehicle does not have to be a 4x4 - a 2x4 vehicle will be fine as seconders stay on hardened roads at all times. The route should be very easy to follow and there is a detailed route description and route directions. It is a good idea to have a second person in the support vehicle, as it is a long way with lots of seconding and navigating to do. For the riders, navigation will be by GPS only, there are no other markers.
A support vehicle with seconding is an integral part of the nonstop experience
“You have to make sure that you are looking after yourself and your team members because we have to provide all our own nutrients, food, water and rehydration. We did this through the car window while we were moving, passing out food and liquids and stuff like that. The logistics include having warm dry kit (in case someone swims off the bridge), warm food, spares - extra tyres and that sort of thing. And I think that's part of what makes it an exceedingly different race.”
Key check-in photos are taken by the teams at various points and sent to the race organisers
E-bikes are welcome and there are categories for ‘E-bike mixed’ and ‘E-bike pure’ teams. Other bikes can also be used - it is possible to complete the route on Gravel bikes although mountain bikes are recommended. Teams are also allowed to swap out bikes along the route.
“I think it's the most exciting adventure to do on a mountain bike. It's not a stage race. It's not a one day race. There are no other races I don’t think where you can legally and safely get this experience anywhere else. When you are racing down those hills and singletracks at 3, 4, 5 in the morning with a torch on, with just the shadows from the torch and a path in front of you, with only your teammates, it is such a privilege to do these trails at night, a life-time experience. I certainly rate this as the best mountain bike adventure race on the calendar,” says Camp.
Some riders will get to the beach in daylight hours but many will only arrive after dark
The KAP sani2c nonstop will finish at the beach at Scottburgh. Supporters will park at the Cutty Sark Hotel and need to join and cross the finish line with their teams. The prize-giving will happen at 9am on Sunday 14 May at the Cutty Sark Hotel.
The KAP sani2c nonstop is an adventure to remember and includes the Umkomaas Valley descent
Entries are open until Wednesday 10 May at midnight. To enter go to www.sani2c.co.za