The 2019 edition of the uBhejaneX MTB Challenge from Hillcrest to Hluhluwe from 5-7 December in aid of rhino conservation has already set a new record entry and is once again proving to be a popular choice for mountain bike riders of varying abilities.
Once again the event will offer riders three different options with the flagship 330km Long Horn, one-day ride from Hillcrest to Hilltop Camp in the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve being the pinnacle. However riders also have a more manageable 250km Short Horn ride, 110km Baby Horn ride and a 30km Orphan ride.
In 2018 organisers introduced a three-day ride where you following a very similar route to the 330km event, but has two overnight stops in Zinkwazi and Empangeni before the final push to Hluhluwe.
The event has continued to grow year on year and over the five years the amounts that have been raised have gradually increased and the event in 2018 raised over R 585 000 for rhino conservation in the Zululand region of KwaZulu-Natal. In the past five years the uBhejaneX MTB Challenge has raised over R2 million for rhino conservation.
In order to take part in the event riders have to raise a minimum of R5000 each for the various beneficiaries and then riders are encouraged to raise as much money outside of that R5000 as possible in the build-up to the ride.
Entries for all four of the events are filling up rapidly with the 250km ride proving to be the most popular and if riders intend on taking on this distance they should make sure they get their entry in as soon as possible.
The event can accommodate between 100 and 110 riders and the spots are close to full. The interest in the event is an example of the social consciousness that an event like this creates amongst everyday people.
The money that is raised from the uBhejaneX will be donated to Project Rhino and Helping Rhinos, two organisations that do crucial work in the Zululand area of KZN in rhino poaching awareness, education and prevention.
uBhejaneX helps fund four different divisions of Project Rhino. Money raised goes towards the ZapWing, K9 Unit, Horse Unit and the Rhino Art initiative.
Other supported initiatives are ranger training, community engagement, thermal imaging equipment, helping the surviving rhinos and also supporting the rhino orphanage that has been set up in the region.
This year South African adventurer Sibusiso Vilani will return to take on the 100km Baby Horn. Vilani has been a strong supporter of the event since its inception and riders will have the opportunity to hear the stories of his experiences of scaling the largest peaks in the world.