The Grindrod Bank Umngazi Pondo Pedal race, held annually in May/June, has over the past decade become a popular fixture on the mountain biking calendar. Billed as the epitome of purist mountain biking however what truly sets this event apart is that it is a race with heart, with the race raising much-needed funds to support the surrounding Umngazi community.
The race consists of a total 115 kilometres of tough terrain, with each race-day beginning and concluding at the award-winning Umngazi Hotel and Spa, where cyclists are based for the duration of the race. The hotel management team conceptualised the race in conjunction with top sports event company B-Active, bringing Grindrod Bank onboard as corporate partner.
"We partnered with Umngazi in this initiative as it was clear that we shared values such as service excellence, long-term relationships and investing back into the community," says David Polkinghorne, CEO of Grindrod Bank and a race finisher. "We're focusing our investment on this small tight-knit community and their buy-in has been a vital aspect. Many villagers are in fact employed by Umngazi, and the hotel invests in educating school leavers. Effective education is an absolute priority."
"On behalf of the bank and the team at Umngazi, we thank all the riders who participate and make such a valuable contribution to this very special community."
Following a needs analysis to ascertain the optimal allocation of funds, money raised is used for a series of building upgrades at local schools in order to help overcome daily challenges experienced within the learning environment, such as limited teaching space, cramped classrooms and poor kitchen facilities.
This race is not about winning. Rather, this is a life-enhancing event for both cyclists and runners, who were able to test their mettle along one of South Africa’s most beautiful coastlines, and the local community and its learners, who will continue to benefit from the Grindrod Bank Umngazi Pondo Pedal long after the dust has settled.
The race caters for a variety of intermediate and advanced biking/runners appetites, from nature lovers, to adventure seekers and racing snakes. The route takes cyclists/runners along a diverse route that includes district roads, swamp trails and cattle paths, where teams are often cheered on by the local Umngazi community.