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Safire Berg 100

Safire Berg 100 – the 2019 winners!

After a few days of wondering would it/wouldn’t it rain, on Saturday a field of 862 keen cyclists headed out of Himeville on a fresh autumn morning in the direction of Nottingham Road, a challenging 100km away, for the 8th Safire Berg 100 event.

The overall winner was Tyronne White, the first to cross the finish line at Bellwood Cottages in a time of 3:19:35, followed by Andrew Johnson in 2nd place and Derrin Smith (3rd) in a sprint finish with a millisecond finalising the result, with identical times of 3:19:36. The ladies’ winners were Christie-Leigh Hearder, first female rider home in a time of 3:47:44, making her 13th rider overall, with Rouxda Grobler 2nd in a time of 4:13:50 and Debbie Thomas 3rd with 4:25:22.

Pietermaritzburg-based Safire Insurance has been the title sponsor since the race started in 2012, with this event one of several that the short-term insurer supports, along with the Baynesfield Classic MTB & Trail event (taking place on 15 September this year). This race is unique in that it swaps its start/finish point annually between the picturesque Midlands villages of Himeville and Nottingham Road, allowing for a new experience each ride. This year, for the first time, MTB riders rubbed shoulders with gravel and E-bikes. The route passes through some of the most stunning scenery in the Midlands, with the 2 100m of climbing making it a race that tests riders of all levels.

Christie-Leigh Hearder says, “The Safire Berg 100 is one of a kind. This was my third race and second time riding from Himeville to Notties. The beauty of this race is that it’s never the same. The weather plays a major role in determining the difficulty level and every year there has been a different challenge to overcome. This is my favourite part of this race – riding 100km sometimes completely alone in tough conditions really teaches you a lot about pushing limits. This year I was lucky enough to be able to keep up with some amazing people; together we pushed through the howling wind and motivated each other to keep digging deep and pushing on. The route is what truly makes this race special, riding through the majestic mountains with streams trickling past as you ride is incredible.”

“We were thrilled with the turnout of over 850 riders. This race has grown from year to year, attracting riders from our local KZN areas as well as from Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State and also the UK and USA rider!” says race organizer Katie Fogg. “We could not have asked for better conditions – rain a few days before the event kept the dust on the gravel roads to a minimum and compacted the roads for great riding conditions. With a cool crisp autumn start and then a mildly warm day we were truly blessed and could not have asked for better! This event brings me much satisfaction and we are excited to be putting on a new event, The HIGHLAND 100 on 21 September in Clarens this year.”

A significant part of the Safire Berg 100 is the impact that it has on the communities that the route passes through. Worthy causes, including Noah’s Ark school in Underberg, Pevensey Place (an assisted living facility), the Underberg School Mastery Unit Outreach programme, and the Lions Bush Conservancy, all benefit from their involvement, either hosting water tables or being part of the shuttle service that gets race participants’ vehicles to the finish line, a very handy service.

“The Safire Berg 100 is more than just another event on the sports calendar; it’s a celebration of the KZN Midlands and its breathtaking scenery. It also showcases the triumph of the human spirit as each rider crosses the finish line – whether they are hard-core professionals using the race as a test before the Sani2C or weekend warriors that simply want to pit their grit against an extraordinary physical challenge,” says Safire Marketing Manager, Jacqui Cochran. “Assisting the organizations who support participants along the route and interacting with the communities where our sponsored events and projects take place, is a focal area for Safire Insurance. With the race taking place on a long weekend, it also opened up the opportunity for many out-of-towners to enjoy an extended Midlands experience, providing a welcome boost to the local economy.”

Overall winner Tyronne White was “stoked” with his first Safire Berg 100 win, “especially in such a strong field. The rain over the past few days was light and made the roads perfect and quite fast. I got into a bit of a headwind with some really strong riders – the racing was positive and quite hard. It’s a fun race, an absolutely exciting event. “

Ends

Pictures by Anthony Grote, captions:

Pic one – The 2019 Safire Berg 100 male winners, from left to right, Derrin Smith (3rd), Katie Fogg (race organizer), Sophia Fogg, Tyronne White (1st), Andrew Johnson (2nd), Jacqui Cochran (Safire Insurance).

Pic two – The 2019 Safire Berg 100 ladies winners, left to right: Debbie Thomas (3rd), Christie-Leigh Hearder (1st and 13th overall), Katie Fogg (race organizer), Sophia Fogg, Rouxda Grobler (2nd), Jacqui Cochran (Safire Insurance).

 

Men

1. Tyronne White 3:19:35

2. Andrew Johnson 3:19:36

3. Derrin Smith 3:19:36

 

Women

1. Christie Hearder 3:47:44

2. Rouxda Grobler 4:13:50

3. Sinead Wannenburg 4:17:38