The Munga 2023

Firstly a huge thanks to Food Lovers Market for enabling me to be on the start line.

It’s a shame that you ride a lot of the Munga in the dark so you miss some of the beautiful landscape and when it’s not dark you are so sleep deprived that you don’t really take in the views and it all becomes a bit of a blur! Two weeks later and I’m still trying to remember what happened in the 67.5hrs…

We set off at midday on Wednesday 29th November from Bloemfontein Windmill Casino. It always amazes me how fast some people start these long multi day races. Burn matches now with hard efforts and you’ll be paying for it by the first race village! I tried to ignore them and stick to my easy effort but my heart rate was still higher than I wanted it to be.

You are allowed to draft in the Munga so I would sit with a small bunch for a while and then ride on to the next bunch. By the first water point at 60kms the 109 riders were pretty spread out.

My plan at the water points was to not waste time; fill my bottles, lube my chain, go to the toilet, eat a few things as I was filling up my pockets with snacks and leave. I had some of my own food with me in my bike bags (Sponser carb drink powder, PVM bars, Fast bars and Woolies jelly sweets) but wanted to combine ‘proper’ food with what I was already carrying. I drank Clover chocolate milk at every water point/race village as it’s a quick way to get in calories, it contains protein and is easy to digest.

I had hoped to reach Loxton (race village 3) before I slept but the section between WP 5 and 6 had been so gruelling (hot and windy) I took a nap at WP6. It was also a good idea to rest while it was hot and to rather keep cycling when it’s dark and cooler. I should have decided to sleep more quickly as I wasted time deciding what to do! It’s amazing how a 40 minute nap energises you!

My other naps were: 10 mins at the side of the road at about 2am somewhere after WP7, 30 mins at the petrol station at Fraserburg, 1hr at Sutherland RV4 (and a shower here) and 10 mins at WP 10.

I ended up riding quite a lot with another rider, Chris. We didn’t chat much (perhaps he didn’t understand my Scottish accent?!) but was nice to have a bit of company so I didn’t get lost (although my Garmin worked perfectly so I just had to follow the GPS route) But I did feel a bit rude putting in my ear phones to listen to music so I refrained for as long as possible until I needed some pumping tunes to keep my eyes open.

I knew the ladies record was around 63 hours but during the race I tried to tell myself to just enjoy the race and not chase after a time. Although I did want to finish under 3 days which was well within my capabilities. Plus Cobus had sheep to collect so I needed to be finished on Saturday morning!

The first 850kms are pretty flat which makes it very tough as you have no downhills to free wheel and recover. Also being 60kg I lack power and weight on flat roads. I’m much more suited to hills so I preferred the end section of the race.

Ouberg Pass was amazing to come down. I’m very glad I was there in daylight to see the amazing view but also there are some gnarly sections which you’d have to ride more slowly if it was dark.

From WP 10 (990km) to the end I rode alone. I felt strong and the adrenaline from nearing the finish line kept me awake. We were told there was a strava segment climb before Ceres. I should have checked the distance of the climb beforehand as I set off with rigorous verve, which after 25 minutes or so I was less vigorous!

It was cold at the top and before the long descent I put on all my layers and put space blankets front and back under my cycling shirt. It felt much colder than 7c; I was shivering so much I was shaking and had to slow down a little to keep control of my bike.

After smashing two helpings of lasagne at Ceres RV5 at 5am I felt amazing and the last 2 hours flew by. The long climb up Bainskloof Pass was made easier by seeing a few cyclists out on their morning ride who gave me some cheers of encouragement.

I thought I would be more emotional and cry at the finish but I think I was a bit dazed after thinking I’d taken a wrong turn 100m before the finish line!

After saying I would only do this race once…I think next time I’ll have to try and break that record…!

A huge thanks to the Munga team and everyone involved. Thank you to all the volunteers for the delicious food and hospitality at the WPs and RVs. The Munga is an amazing race; for most people it’s the furthest they have ever ridden and nobody knows how their bodies will respond. The conditions are always uncertain…except there will be high temperatures and wind at some point! I hope I have inspired a few people to push their boundaries – we are all capable of much more than we think.

Finish time: 67hrs 29mins
5th overall
1st Lady

Note 1
For those who have asked and those who are too shy to ask…my bottom and female part were fine during the 1132km/67.5hrs of The Munga!

During training prior to the race I made sure I took off my sweaty cycling bib as soon as I finished training to minimise any blocked pores/issues down there before the start of the race.

During the race I wore Pro Speeda Monton bib shorts which are made from an Italian fabric featuring compression in the fabric which helps to reduce the production of lactic acid and the consequent muscular strain and thus enhances sport performance. They have an Elastic Interface chamois which is high density and moisture wicking, plus has perforations on the surface to allow for higher air permeability.

I used an ISM triathlon saddle which I always use on my mountain bike. It’s very comfortable while sitting upright as well as in the tt position. The split nose is designed to remove pressure from soft tissue, ensuring maximum blood flow, no genital numbness, and a healthier, more enjoyable ride.

The use of tt bars not only gives you an aero advantage but it gives you a chance to have a different pressure point on your bottom/seat bones (as well as to rest your hands) Some people choose to be very upright on their tt bars – usually due to inflexibility- but the more you can lean forward and have a bigger difference in seat position the better in my opinion.

(I did tense up a bit when getting back on my bike after each water point in anticipation of pain but it was just slightly tender seat bones and within 10 seconds I was fine)

At every water point and race village during the race I used the toilet (a good indication that I was keeping hydrated) and applied two sachets of Squirt bum barrier (one of the race sponsors); so much that it oozed through my cycling chamois and onto my saddle! But it meant I had no friction or sores. After the race I had to wash my cycling bib 4 times to get all the barrier cream out!

Note 2
I still have a numb right hand (thumb snd first two fingers) which apparently can take a few months to come right. It didn’t bother me during the race. I should have used my aero bars more!

5 thoughts on “The Munga 2023”

  1. Well done Jenny, we rode with you for a short while (Three dudes wearing Mitsubishi kit and one of us “Frank” also did Kona)
    You were a machine and looked incredibly smooth and comfortable on your bike. I reckon the record is absolutely possible.

    Kobus and the sheep was a good laugh !!! BTW….

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