On Sunday, 17 October 2021, Sol Plaatje University, in association with the Northern Cape Cycling Federation (NCC) and Cycling SA hosted the inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Cycle Challenge. The event was supported by, amongst others, First National Bank, FUNDI, the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality, the Northern Cape Tourism Authority, and the Galeshewe Cycling Club. Many local businesses provided merchandise for the cyclists’ swag bags and for spot prizes.

The VC’s Cycle Challenge which covered a distance of 43.5kms, consisted of a peloton of 95 riders. The race began on Sol Plaatje Drive, in front of Luka Jantjie House, from which cyclists made their way to the R31 (Barkley Road) and then to the N8 (Schmidsdrift Road) before making their way back to Sol Plaatje Drive.

In welcoming the cyclists, Professor Andrew Crouch, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Sol Plaatje University, mentioned that it was fitting that the University’s first major public event was in the month in which it celebrates the 145th anniversary of Solomon Thekisho Plaatje’s birth and that it takes the form of a cycling race because he was an avid cyclist, amongst his many other achievements. It has been said that the bicycle enabled Sol Plaatje to traverse neighbouring provinces to fulfil his role as an activist.

Professor Crouch also mentioned that the setting for the race held special significance in that it was taking place on the site of the former Malay Camp, from which its inhabitants were forcibly removed between 1939 and 1959. The event meant that the area was being reclaimed as a community space.

The event was touted as one that would help the University build relationships with the people of Kimberley and surrounding areas as well as promote a healthy lifestyle. The University succeed in achieving all these objects. University staff were lauded for their excellent planning and execution of the event with most participants saying it was the best small race hosted this year.

While the VC’s Cycle Challenge was underway spectators and members of the public mingled on the Oppenheimer Memorial Gardens and enjoyed visiting the various flea market stalls. The OFM pop-up station provided music that created a lively atmosphere.

The VC’s Cycle Challenge has the hallmarks of becoming a flagship event of the University and a major race on the cycling calendar. SPU looks forward to hosting more cyclists next year and encourages members of the Kimberley community to get involved in the spin-off activities.

Congratulations to the winners of the inaugural Sol Plaatje University Vice-Chancellor’s Cycle Challenge.

Male winners:
1st – Karlchen Rost
2nd – Philip Piek
3rd – Marcel Karsten

Female winners:
1st – Danien Heathcote
2nd – Cindy Jenneke
3rd – Theresa Hefer

Attached are a selection of photos that you may use for your story:
19 of 133: Cyclists at the start of the race
98 of 133: Professor Andrew Crouch completed the 43.5km race
132 of 133: Kobus Burger of the NCC with the race winners