Sani2c was started over 12 years ago in order to raise funds for a school in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, and is now rated as the largest staged mountain bike event in the world. The race is a premier event on the South African sporting calendar drawing 4 500 competitors annually from around the world and covers a route of 260km from the foothills of the Drakensberg to the sea.
Sani2c began as the dream of Farmer Glen, an avid mountain bike enthusiast and co-organiser of the Imana Wild Ride. In 1998, together with a few local nutty mountain bikers, he completed the first trial run. The following year, he scouted and refined the rugged path with the objective of establishing a world-class route. He invited friends and experienced mountain bikers to join in on the infamous dry runs.
The entire route was scouted and developed on mountain bikes, providing its pioneers with first-hand experience of every road, path and rock, climb and descent. Still today, countless hours are spent debating potential routes, usually while perched on a mountain top or pedalling through rows of tall cane. Essentially, sani2c dominates the conversation whenever Glen and the scouts are together; such is their passion for this event.
The largest mountain bike stage race in the world starts every year in Underberg. It carries in its name the Sani Pass our iconic gateway to Lesotho and the Southern Drakensberg is very proud of hosting the start of this event every year.
It is so big that it is divided into three separate instalments: The Trail, the Adventure and the Race. In each sub-event, up to 750 pairs of riders follow the same 260-odd kilometres of trails, but start a day apart. A total of almost 4500 entrants enjoy breath-taking landscapes, sleeping in sprawling tent villages, huge food halls, and three very different race atmospheres.
Key to the Sani2c's success is that it's about giving each and every participant an exceptional experience. In addition to the large scale of the event several other elements add to the spectacle too. A floating bridge on day one has become something of an icon, although this was upstaged in 2013 by an even larger floating bridge – just before the finish line. The final 800m pedal wound over a lagoon, hit the sand, then moved with the surf. Riders who came in later in the day got the larger tides upping the challenge further still.
The model for sani2c has always been twofold: to provide riders with a near-perfect experience – and to benefit the area and its people.