The scenic town of Prince Albert, South Africa, played host to the second edition of the unforgettable Prince George Monumental 100 Miler race and came alive with the spirit of adventure and camaraderie expected from a true Dryland event. Participants gathered on the 14th of October, 2023 to partake in this brutal yet beautiful 100-mile journey with a total ascent of 2500m.
The Prince George route takes you up and over the Swartberg Pass from the northern side, through the Klein Karoo over the Montagu Pass to George, which features a combination of rugged and smooth gravel roads, gruelling climbs and fast descents. With near-perfect weather conditions, riders got to experience three diverse geographical areas, two national monument mountains and lavish landscapes following an exceptional rainy season.
In the elite men’s race, the majority of the field competed with gravel bikes with Wessel Botha and Pieter du Toit being amongst the favourites for the title. Although they had Wayne van der Walt and Donovan Le Cok on their heels, Wessel Botha claimed bragging rights for the King of the Swartberg Mountain title with Pieter du Toit heading home as the official Prince George 100 Miler champion of 2023. The privilege to join the winner’s circle, however, did not come easy as a sprint to the finish line summarised a tense affair. “It was every man for himself and the sprint was all out” Pieter du Toit laughed at the Witfontein finish line.
Du Toit crossed the line with a winning time of 5 hours, 22 minutes, and 1 second, demolishing the record set in the inaugural event in 2022. Botha came in second with only split seconds separating him and his teammate. Van der Walt followed with 30 minutes and 49 seconds and Le Cok only seconds later. Jaco Davel rounded off the top five with a time of 6 hours, 1 minute and 47 seconds.
In the elite women’s race, Cherise Willeit, the current national gravel champion, was sure to set the pace for the rest of the field, but it was the local mountain biking legend, Robyn the Groot who claimed the Queen of the Swartberg crown, even though she wasn’t there to ‘race’ after her retirement. Cherise Willeit caught up with de Groot on the flats with her gravel bike and eventually claimed the Prince George 100 Miler women’s title with a big smile on her face. “Robyn is such a classy rider and made me work for every pedal stroke that I gave today” Willeit confessed, “hats off to Dryland, what an amazing day, I absolutely loved it!”.
Willeit’s winning time was 6 hours, 24 minutes and 7 seconds, with De Groot right on her heels only 17 seconds behind. Sabine Spitz, another queen of mountain biking, came home in third place, 24 minutes later.
The Prince George Monumental 100 Miler was the final event on the XGR Western Cape Gravel Cup Series where contenders had to participate in at least three events in the series to accumulate points. Donovan Le Cok and Cherise Willeit ended on top of the log with the most points earned and rode away with the inaugural Western Cape XGR titles.
Apart from the 100-mile race, there was also a 50-mile option that stretched over the last section of the full course where participants joined the race at Highgate Ostrich Farm outside Oudtshoorn, towards George over the magical Montagu Pass. Even though it was half the distance and vertical ascent, it was still a monumental challenge, without having to climb the Swartberg Pass.
The 2023 Prince George Monumental Miler was more than just a brutal but beautiful race; it was an unforgettable adventure celebrating determination, resilience, and the love of cycling. As the sun sets on this year’s event, anticipation for the next edition begins to build, with riders and fans eagerly awaiting future challenges and aspirations.
Please follow the link to view the full list of results.
Stay tuned for updates on the 2024 race date by following Prince George’s social media channels.