Kevin Benkenstein hopes for challenging conditions during The Munga, which begins in Bloemfontein tomorrow. The harsher the better, he says, eager to conquer the ultra-tough ride to Wellington in the Boland.
Benkenstein, who finished fifth in last year’s 1 000km race, said this week the single-stage mountain-bike event was meant to meet certain standards to be labelled “the toughest race in the world”.
“I hope it’s hot and really windy, as it was last year,” said the 31-year-old Stellenbosch resident.
“It will be really nice if the race is super hard. If I have the ability to compete, then I’d like the conditions to be as difficult as possible.
“It will be really boring if the temperature is mild and there’s a tail wind. Difficult conditions are what The Munga is all about, and that’s why it’s held at this time of the year.
Finishing the race under difficult circumstances will be extra rewarding for him.
“It’s more of an accomplishment if you know you have overcome some harsh challenges.
“The race is meant to test you in a number ways, so if you’re going to get the full Munga experience, you have to really earn your finishing medal.
“Finishing is no forgone conclusion either. That’s the first challenge, before you can think of winning,” he said.
Although Benkenstein anticipates a testing ride, he hopes to improve on his performance last year.
“I want to push my limits; I really want to improve on my time. I’ve gained a lot of experience since last year so I feel quite positive.
“I also have a better understanding of my body and my ability to adapt to different conditions along the way.
“It will be a big achievement for me if I finish around the three-day mark. Nothing always goes completely according to plan in this race, so I may have to adjust my strategy down the line.”
Benkenstein, who finished second in the 3 000km Race to the Rock in Australia two and a half months ago, hopes his stamina will hold for the South African endurance test.
“I don’t have any doubts about my fitness. I’ve had a big year. I just hope I’ve recovered enough since returning from Australia.
“I don’t feel fatigued and I do feel good on the bike, but if the Race to the Rock does have an effect, I will start feeling it on about the second day.
“I feel I’ll be able to hold my preferred pace, though, and I’m confident that I’ll have a good ride,” he added.