Lachlan Morton's off-road adventure continues at The Munga

Lachlan Morton competes with Kenneth Karaya at Cape Epic 2021
Lachlan Morton competes with Kenneth Karaya at Cape Epic 2021 (Image credit: Sam Clark/ EF Education-Nippo)

Less than six weeks after completing the Absa Cape Epic, Lachlan Morton returns to South Africa for The Munga, a 1,000-kilometer mountain bike race across the South African desert, December 1-6, in the height of summer. 

The race has a 100-hour time limit and about 6,500 meters of elevation gain. There are 10 water stations along the course as well as five supported race villages, where competitors can rest, refuel, and get mechanical assistance.

“To be honest, I don’t know a huge amount about the specifics of the race apart from the fact that it’s really long and very remote but I’m looking forward to discovering it as it goes,” Lachlan said on the EF Education-Nippo team website. 

“There are five different checkpoints and then the rest of it is unsupported where you’re looking after yourself. I like races that have that element where you’re left to your own devices.”

Racing through the Karoo desert in the middle of summer means high temperatures in the day followed by dramatically colder conditions each evening, but Morton said he is prepared to ride through both extremes. 

“It’s a very harsh environment that the race travels through. You’ve got really hot days and super cold nights so that will be a big challenge and something that’s difficult to pack for. In the moment it could be difficult to manage because the heat can get to you really quickly, as can the cold. They’re both things that can stop you in their tracks. I imagine that’s going to be a very big challenge,” he said.

"Water is a big issue. It needs to be a priority, so I’m working out how much fluid to carry. And lighting is important of course because you’re going to be doing some night riding so that’s a main consideration.” 

Morton last raced in South Africa at the Cape Epic on the Western Cape in mid-October, completing the eight-day partner stage race with Kenneth Karaya. Morton had trained and planned to ride the event with EF Education veteran Alex Howes, but Karaya came on board after Howes crashed at the Pike Peak Apex and could not compete due to a broken finger.

Like his 18-day, 5,510-kilometre Alt Tour de France test earlier this year, Morton will be back for a solo adventure, this time from Bloemfontein in South Africa to the Doolhof wine estate in Wellington, a small town in the Cape Winelands.

“I love just applying myself fully to something that requires all of you and just adapting to whatever situation you’re in. I like being on the start line and not knowing what’s coming. At these races, you’re relying on yourself and you don’t really know what kind of a challenge you’re going to come up against. That’s a cool feeling to have. That’s what attracts me to these kinds of adventures," said the Australian who now specialises in ultra-endurance events around the world.

"The best things always come from when you push through and come out the other side. That’s where the real reward is. Just be present in that hard moment and be aware that it will pass. Ultimately, you’re going to get humbled out there and The Munga is going to be very difficult, but I’m looking forward to having that one, singular challenge for a few days.” 

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