Desert Dash grows 20 km longer

20 October 2021 | Sports

Limba Mupetami



WINDHOEK

With only close to 50 days to go, the 2021 Nedbank Desert Dash returns for its 17th consecutive year on 10 and 11 December.

The gruelling cycling event, which should be completed in 24 hours, has added 20 kilometres to the distance, making it a little extra more excruciating for the cyclists.

The event, sponsored by Nedbank Namibia for the seventh year, is the longest single-stage mountain bike race in the world, covering 393 km from Windhoek’s Grove Mall to Swakopmund’s Platz Am Meer.

Cyclists will travel over the Khomas Hochland mountains and through the Namib Desert to the Atlantic coast to cross the finish line.

Nedbank Namibia held a media launch yesterday to open this year’s race, which already has 250 solo riders, with the two-man and -woman as well as four-person team numbers still to be announced.

Speaking at the launch, the bank’s executive for retail and business banking, Richard Meeks, said Namibia is developing a reputation as a competent host of major cycling events and that this is evidenced by its staging of International Cycling Union sanctioned races.

“As you may know, earlier this year, five Namibian cyclists qualified to compete in cycling codes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. This is testimony to the fact that Namibian cycling has come a long way, and we’ve gained well-deserved recognition on a continental and worldwide scale,” he said.

Tourism boost

To date, Nedbank Namibia has invested over N$7 million in the Desert Dash. The incidental contribution of this investment is the number of people who flock to the coastal town for the Dash.

“Each year we’ve been thrilled to see so many participants as well as their friends and family travel to Swakopmund to support the cyclists.

“A few days before and after the event, hospitality places at the coast are literally bursting at the seams. The Dash also helps to increase the support rendered to small businesses in Swakopmund, such as adventure tours and massage parlours.

“We are confident that the race has a significant and wide-ranging influence on the economy of Swakopmund, and that it provides an ideal opportunity to promote Namibia as a fascinating tourist destination to the international cycling communities,” Meeks added.

Worldwide support

Sport ministry executive director Dr Audrin Mathe said the Dash keeps attracting an international audience.

“As a ministry, we are pleased to see that the event has continued to attract international cyclists. With all the travel restrictions in place, I’m delighted to hear that this year, the race will see participants from South Africa, Malawi, the United States, Germany, Portugal, Britain, France, Serbia, Canada, Ireland, Belgium and Botswana, among many other countries,” he said.

He added that government will remain in contact with the organisers to ensure that Covid-19 regulations are adhered to.

Swakopmund CEO Archie Benjamin added that the Dash is unique as it brings international visibility to Namibia.

“On behalf of the Swakopmund community, we want to express our hearty welcome to all the cyclists, their teams and supporters who will be coming to town,” he said.

The Nedbank Desert Dash is co-sponsored by Indongo Toyota, SuperSpar (Maerua and The Grove) and Bokomo.

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