In three short years the 3Mountains Challenge has become the Free State’s largest multi-day cycling and running event – and its future is looking even brighter.
It was recently confirmed that Hollard is to come on board as the event’s first-ever corporate sponsor, and it will from 2017 be known as the 3Mountains Challenge, Powered by Hollard.
The sponsorship has been hailed as a partnership that holds great potential for the challenge, Hollard and the community of Clocolan in the eastern Free State, where the event takes place.
The 2017 3Mountains Challenge, Powered by Hollard takes place between 18 and 21 March, and includes the following events:
- An MTB long-distance stage race, consisting of four stages – a 17km prologue/night stage and three day stages of 80-85km, 75-80km and 55-60km each. This race caters for various types of entries, including open, mixed and 40+ teams, as well as solo male and female riders
- An MTB short-distance stage race, also consisting of four stages – a 17km prologue/night stage and three day stages of 47km, 45km and 40km each. Various types of entries are featured, including open male under-18, under-16 and 50+ riders, and open female under-18, under-16 and 40+ riders. (Five entries are required in a category for it to be recognised)
- A trail run long-distance stage race, of four stages – a 5-6km prologue/night race, and three day stages of 21-25km, 21-25km and 10-12km each. This event is open to solo male and female runners
- A trail run short-distance stage race, also of four stages – a 5-6km prologue/night race, and three day stages of 10-12km each. This event is open to solo male and female runners in under-18 and 40+ age categories
- A combined stage race, consisting of four stages – a 5-6km prologue/night stage run, a 40-45km cycling stage, a 10-12km run stage and a 35-40km cycle. There will be open male and female categories
- Open day MTB and trail run races on 19 March, including 84km and 48.4km MTB routes, and 18.8km and 8.8km trail run routes
- A kiddies’ trail run race on 20 March, of 5km or 10km
“There’s something for people of all ages and competency levels, from weekend warriors to more serious competitors,” says 3Mountains organiser George Stroebel.
“We’ve put a lot of effort into working out great MTB and running routes, and the 2017 event will certainly be challenging – but fun.”
Stroebel continues that the 3Mountains Challenge, Powered by Hollard also offers a perfect long weekend getaway for families, saying: “We’ve got fantastic events for moms, dads and the kids, plus a race village that offers food stalls, kids’ activities and live entertainment.
“We also have a wide variety of accommodation options, including tented accommodation, camping space, hostels and game lodges. The tented accommodation includes pitched tents and mattresses, and access to ablution facilities and electricity.
“For those who would like to explore the beautiful Clocolan area, there are plenty of activities to consider, such as fine dining, farm stalls, hiking trails, an exotic and Biblical oils tour, a rabbit fur farm and a gourmet mushroom farm.”
From 69 participants in 2014 to 329 last year, Stroebel says the challenge has grown exponentially in its short history – and he expects the 2107 race to continue this trend, particularly now that Hollard is supporting it.
“Things can now really start moving forward, and we certainly see exciting growth in the years ahead,” he says.
Johan Squires, head of Hollard Broker Markets – Hollard’s short-term insurance division – for the Free State, says the insurer’s involvement will go beyond simply a monetary sponsorship, and include support for social development initiatives in which the challenge is itself involved, such as the Lethotheng Community Centre.
The Lethotheng Community Centre, an initiative of the local Groenewald family, provides disadvantaged children with basic education, nutrition and clothing, as well as physical, emotional and cognitive development opportunities. The project ensures that the children do not end up on the streets, and are able to undergo proper schooling – giving them, in turn, the opportunity for growth also.
Stroebel says that the 3Mountains Challenge is closely involved with the project, and involves both the children and their parents in the event.
“We’ve started a development team – both runners and cyclists – to introduce the children to sport, and they stand the opportunity to win prizes, such as good running shoes, that help them to persevere with sport. And we get their parents to help us with the race, such as running water points,” he says.