The Gem Diamond Kalahari Challenge mountain bike race, now on its tenth year, is one of the most exciting ones for cycling enthusiasts and has the potential to become one of the most prestigious races in Southern Africa. Slated for the 26th to the 28th of June 2015, the race has a registration ceiling of 300 riders, at print time more than 170 cyclists had registered and registration closes this Friday (29th May). According to the event Director, Garth Armstrong, the true African mountain bike race attracts both local and international mountain bikers, “Batswana have been participating in numbers in this event. It is usually 50% Batswana and 50% foreigners and the numbers of registering bikers continues to grow every day.”
Revamped and refreshed, this year the Gem Diamonds Kalahari Challenge will for the first time offer a full and lite distance options. The full route will be 237km and include 2400m of climbing over the three days while the lite option route will be 185km with a total of 1300m to climb. The race will start and finish at the Lion Park Resort and is open to professional and amateur bikers.
The race event also recently welcomed four sponsors: Gem Diamonds, Stanbic Bank, Spar Botswana and the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO). The sponsors are set to transform the race into one of the most sought after mountain biking events in Southern Africa.
“We are excited to partner with the Kalahari Challenge. We have committed our support for the next three years because we believe the event’s unique individual rider experience will put Botswana mountain biking on the map. Our partnership is focused on enhancing every aspect of this world-class stage race from the route to the organization, facilities and accommodation,” CEO of Gem Diamonds Clifford Elphick commented.
According to a press release, BTO plans to showcase all the warmth and hospitality Botswana has to offer as it fully supports adventure tourism and the Kalahari Challenge is a perfect fit in attracting non-resident cyclists to experience everything Botswana has to offer. The riders, with the assistance of BTO, will be able to extend their experience to the world-renowned national parks & game lodges. Spar will provide post-race ‘chill zones’ which will be fully stocked with tasty snacks, cash bar, free WiFi, and DSTV.
“We are dedicated to making the Gem Diamonds Kalahari Challenge a positive experience for the riders as well as the local communities. We have created the Community Support Programme with the assistance of BDP councillor John Taolo who has orchestrated meetings with elders to decide where the race could add value. Through our sponsors and the riders that support our race, we will make real and tangible differences to these communities,” said race Director, Seamus O’Neill. The sponsorship from Stanbic Bank will support this programme by upgrading and expanding existing facilities at Lekgolobotlo Clinic.