Living in arguably the most beautiful, largely undiscovered part of Joburg where horizons are grasslands and not rising apartment blocks or buildings, it seemed logical to host a cycle race in the area. The Parents Teacher Forum at Beaulieu Prep, a small school in Beaulieu Estate, needed to come up with a unique way to raise funds for certain education and school infrastructure projects. The idea was to incorporate a fun ride with a fun day to attract the local community and other non Beaulieu Prep children and parents to the event. The math was simple, the more people that the school could attract to the event, the more funds they could raise.
Three years ago, Beaulieu Prep hosted it's first 15 km fun ride along the bridle trails of Beaulieu Estate. The year thereafter the first half marathon (40 kms) distance was introduced to increase the profile of the event and to also cater for more experienced riders. The race managed to entice in the region of 300 competitors in 2011, with most of the competitors taking part in the 15km and only about 63 in the 40km distances.
On the 9th June 2012, with a small marketing budget and some creative thinking the race managed to attract more than 600 competitors. Considering it was the coldest day of the year, the turnout was superb.
Many hours were spent preparing for the event. Planning of the various routes in conjunction with the land owners and residents associations was a slow but necessary process to ensure that all affected people were considered and that all issues raised by interested parties were resolved. Arranging a cycle race in an area that is dominated by equestrian sports is by no means an easy task. Building trust amongst people taking part in cycling and equestrian sports requires careful consideration especially seeing that many cyclists have very little idea of the skittish nature of horses. Special care had to be taken to notify the usual users of the bridle trails that on the 9th June, their Saturday out ride would be disturbed by 600 cyclists.
Once permission had been received, trail preparation started, which entailed hours and hours of careful inspection of aerial photographs and contour maps of the area, followed by hours of mouthfuls of dust, petrol fumes and sweat and then finally the marking of the various routes.
Behind every event no matter how large lies the logistical planning and support by many volunteers and sponsoring companies. This event was no different and in the back ground logistical planning was frantically taking place to ensure the smooth running of online entries, registrations, security, race route marking, fun day activities, ablutions and medical support… the list was endless.
Thanks to Beaulieu Prep parents, sponsors, Beaulieu Estate and land owners the entire event was very well received with only a few hitches which will be addressed before next years race.
The positive outcome of such an event is that it brings people together who have a common passion, and that is a love for the countryside, no matter what activity they are taking part in. It also highlights the need to preserve the countryside in its raw beautiful state so that opportunities for people to take part in such events remain a possibility. Too often, without understanding the countryside and the community, people disregard the importance of it until it is to late and lost for ever and they can then only have fond memories of it rather than being able to be part of it.
Many thanks to the following people and companies for their assistance leading up to and on the day of the Beaulieu Prep cycle race and fun day:
• Parents and Families of Beaulieu Prep
• The Beaulieu Prep Parents Teacher Forum
• The Beauty Factory – Event Title sponsor
• Michael Angelo Hotels – Prizes and catering
• Entry Time – Online race entries and registration
• Buzz Rack – Online entry prize
• Platinum Properties – Fun day sponsor
• Bene – Fun day sponsor
• Beaulieu Estate and Security – Access to bridle paths and venue security
• Sector 4 Community Policing Forum – Out lying security on 45km route
• ADT Security - Out lying security on 45km route
• Scorpion Trail Security - Out lying security on 45km route
• Mounted River Rangers - Out lying security on 45km route
Lastly and most importantly, thank you to all the land owners who kindly allowed us access to their properties for the cycle race