WITH only 50 days to go, the Nedbank Desert Dash returns for the 17th consecutive year on Friday, 10 December and Saturday, 11 December 2021.
Sponsored by Nedbank Namibia for the seventh year, the cycling event is the longest single-stage mountain bike race in the world. This year, it will cover 393km from the Grove Mall in Windhoek to Swakopmund's Platz am Meer, with cyclists travelling over the Khomas Hochland Mountains and through the Namib Desert to the Atlantic coast.
Speaking at the official launch yesterday, Richard Meeks of Nedbank Namibia said that 2021 is a year for the history books with regards to achievements in Namibia's sports fraternity.
"Namibia's developing reputation as a competent host of major cycling events is evidenced by its staging of International Cycling Union-sanctioned races. Earlier this year five Namibian cyclists qualified to compete in cycling codes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. This is testimony to the fact that Namibian cycling has come a long way, and we've gained well-deserved recognition on a continental and worldwide scale," he said.
To date, Nedbank Namibia has invested more than N$7 million in the Desert Dash.
"Each year we've been thrilled to see so many participants, as well as their friends and family travel to Swakopmund to support the cyclists. A few days before and after the event, hospitality places at the coast are literally bursting at the seams. The Nedbank Desert Dash also helps to increase the support rendered to small businesses in Swakopmund, such as adventure tours, and massage parlours. We are confident that the race has a significant and wide-ranging influence on the economy of Swakopmund, and that it provides an ideal opportunity to promote Namibia as a fascinating tourist destination," Meeks added.
The executive director of the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, Audrin Mathe said that the Desert Dash keeps attracting an international audience.
"As a ministry, we are pleased to see that the event has continued to attract international cyclists. With all the travel restrictions in place, I am delighted to hear that this year the race will see participants from South Africa, Malawi, the United States, Germany, Portugal, Britain, France, Serbia, Canada, Ireland, Belgium, and Botswana among many other countries," he said.
Mathe added that the government will remain in contact with the organisers to ensure that Covid-19 regulations are adhered to.
Swakopmund chief executive officer, Archie Benjamin, joined the live stream remotely.
"The Nedbank Desert Dash is unique as it brings international visibility to Namibia. On behalf of the Swakopmund community, we want to express our hearty welcome to all the cyclists, their teams, and supporters that will be coming to the town," Benjamin said.