Midlands Ultra gets all-clear on exciting new bike route
Pietermaritzburg – The CompliMed Midlands Ultra Triathlon, happening at Midmar Dam over the first weekend of March, has received a major boost with the long-awaited go-ahead for a new, longer cycling route that takes the riders into the heart of the Midlands and back on three, thirty kilometre loops.
The event has two different distances on the day with a shorter and more intense Sprint event as opposed to the longer Ultra event. Both have revamped bike routes for the 2014 edition which doubles up as the South African Long Course championships for the first time in three years.
Event organiser Damian Bradley is happy about the changes that have been made to the route and feels that the new route is a great addition to the race. With the consent of the Howick Police and the Department of Transport Bradley is hopeful that the new, longer route will attract more athletes to the event in March.
“We have essentially extended the route by about 5km at either end of the loop,” Bradley said. “The old Ultra route was only around 20km per lap and now it is 30km which means that the rider will be riding three laps of the new course.
“The 20km Sprint route has also had a rejig in that they will turn at the same place as the Ultra athletes past the dam wall but they will turn at the Dargle Road turnoff so we should end up having quite a spread out field which takes pressure off the athletes and us as organisers,” Bradley mentioned.
The Ultra event riders will ride out of Midmar dam and travel along the R103 towards Lidgetton where they turn left onto the Dargle road and this is where the first change comes into the race – the turning point along the Dargle road has been extended and a few small hills added. The athletes then head back past the Midmar entrance and for the first time past the dam wall and then turn at the top of the road before the bridge that goes over the N3.
“The main change is that the Ultra athletes will not turn into Midmar during their laps and will just keep riding past the entrance where we will have the cycle water table set up for the Ultra Athletes.
“This new route is going to be slightly harder than the previous route, but will still be one of the fastest half Iron Man courses around which will hopefully be encouraging for the athletes,” Bradley added.
There are a number of features of the new route that are positives for the organisers as well as for the riders. Providing the riders with a longer route will be slightly more challenging but eases the bike congestion on the cycle course, as well as giving the athletes longer but fewer laps.
“The extended route should be able to provide us with a more spread out field which will prevent a lot of congestion that has been a potential problem in the past and makes it a lot more manageable for the Ultra athletes.
“It also helps us in that the Dargle road is a quiet road and having a little bit of extra distance along there is something that will benefit the entire event,” Bradley explained.
The Midlands Ultra takes place on 2 March and for all the information on the event go to www.midlandsultra.com. Entries for the March event close on the 11th of February