It is an unwritten fact that we of a darker hue are generally twitchy about getting out of comfort zones we have only just got accustomed to. Thus, the relative sanctity of the press box, with a bit of wi-fi and a cold drink, is what we would call a good working station.
When the call to cover the KAP sani2c came, it was with darkie trepidation that I agreed to the whole malarkey.
‘Bring your sleeping bag and a pillow,’ the instruction said.
That’s when the Zulu dread set in. Naturally, something was forgotten in the mad dash to the pick-up point. Just as well it was the pillow and not the precious sleeper. For those who still don’t know, as pretty as it is, it gets very fresh up near the hills of Lesotho!
Enough about cricket scribes out of their comfort zones, however.
What I found at the top of the mountain, and all the way down to Scottsburgh Primary School for the finish, was an unbroken chain of Ubuntu, which is always a source of hope.
Communities come together to make not just this race happen, but also several others. Moms and dads, farmers, housewives, farm workers, schoolchildren of every hue and home – they all muck in to make sure this event is a success.
Over 30 000 meals are served over the week, from 5am until deep in the night. What could be a logistical nightmare of people, bikes and cars flows seamlessly through some of South Africa’s most stunning vistas, and lives are touched and improved along the way.
In it’s 14-year existence, the sani2c has raised and donated over R65-million to help uplift the communities that this mad race goes through. Countless scholarships have been handed out to sharpen eager minds, and the generosity of spirit – even in the midst of fierce competition – is a welcome change after a summer of cricketing discontent.
A measure of the camaraderie created on this trek is the fact that no other bike race has had a higher percentage of women competing than this year’s sani2c.
It’s for everyone.
And the catalyst for that spirit of sharing is Farmer Glen Haw, the brains and tenacious brawn behind the whole operation. He has the uncanny ability to speak to the volunteers who give up their time and sleep with the same, infectious humility he takes to the corporates who generously sponsor the event.
He is a man of the people, flicking comfortably from Zulu to English, and back again. His is an example that could lead us all to a far more harmonious existence in this beautiful country of ours.
And it is not enough for him to organise the course, the sponsors and the logistics. You’ll still see him during the race, on a chopper, or on foot, scurrying up a hill, trying to take the ‘money shot for the gallery afterwards.
He is insatiable. Heck, his powers of gentle persuasion almost convinced this scribe to try out the bikes next year.
But one look at some of the sheer drops these mad men and women fly past was enough to send me scurrying towards the sanctity of my sleeping bag, sans pillow.
Baby steps, Farmer Glen.
Baby, Zulu steps ....