Gauteng has seen an explosive growth both in participating schools and riders and is currently the largest league in the country with more than 60 schools and close on 2600 riders competing for a place in the finals this season. The top ten schools as well as individual category winners will qualify for the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League finals taking place at Bekker School in October.
Going into Saturday’s finals, Menlopark High School is lying comfortably first with 987. With literally a couple of points splitting the second to fifth positions, spectators can look forward to an exhilarating finals as the top five schools battle it out. Midstream College is currently second with 590 points, followed by Zwartkop High School with 573 points in third, Garsfontein High School fourth with 556 points and Waterkloof High School coming in at fifth with 535 points.
Registration opens on Friday evening from 18h00 – 19h00 and from 06h00 on Saturday morning at St Stithians. The course will be open from 07h00 to 08h15 for practice with the first race briefing for sub-juniors at 08h20. All riders must be ready at the start 20 minutes before their respective start time: Sub-junior boys (13-14 years) start at 08h30 and the girls at 08h35. The youth boys 15 years start 09h30 followed by the girls at 09h35. The youth boys (16 years) will set off at 10h30 with the girls at 11h35. The junior boys (17-18 years) and junior women will wrap up the day’s racing at 11h30 and 11h35 with respectively with prize giving at 13:30.
According to Gauteng league co-ordinator, Deon Steyn the year-on-year growth in the league has been amazing. Since becoming part of the national Spur School Mountain Bike League in 2009, the numbers has shot up from 225 to 609 participants last year. Steyn, who is one of only seven UCI International Mountain Bike Commissaires in South Africa, is invested in establishing the sport of mountain bike riding as an official school sport. He developed a special school commissaires’ training course, which he presented in Gauteng recently as part of his effort to formalise the sport.
“The Anatomic High School MTB Series has become the biggest XCO series in South Africa, drawing more participants than provincial and even national races. Up until last year the Gauteng Series was open to everybody and we had riders from Limpopo, Freestate, NW and Mpumlanga participating in the Gauteng events. The growth of the league necessitated that we split the regions to avoid racing fields becoming too big for the cross-country lap racing format (also the Olympic format) of the league,” said Steyn.
The league will culminate with the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League National Finals in October, when MTB fans from across Sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa and neighbours Zimbabwe and Namibia will congregate at Bekker School in Magaliesberg to compete as schools as well as provinces for the coveted Spur Schools MTB League trophy and top spot on the provincial log.
Gauteng is currently the defending national champions.