Nedbank Desert Dash for the first time to feature para-cyclists
The 2022 edition of the Nedbank Desert Dash will for the first time see para-cyclists competing in the 397-kilometre, 24-hour race, that sees cyclists riding through the Namib Desert, from Windhoek to Swakopmund.
The Run Along Foundation in collaboration with the Namibia Paralympic Committee (NPC), with the support of Nedbank Namibia, has registered a four-person hand cycling team as well as a four-person visually impaired cycling team.
The athletes, who are currently based in the northern town of Ongwediva, are going through their paces and are looking forward to the event that will be held on 9 – 10 December 2022, from Grove Mall in Windhoek to Swakopmund’s Platz Am Meer Mall.
The hand cycling paralympic team consists of Roodley Gowaseb, Nico Kharuxab, Modestu Lipuleni, and Gabriel Nghiishililwa. The team will be joined by Lucas Ndahangwapo for any emergency substitutions.
The visually impaired paralympic team consists of Mateus Kambudu, Sem Shikondjele, Fillemon Lotto, and George Nehwaya, who will be cycling together with Stevenson Hamukoto, Robert Nambambi, David Haluteni, and Naftal Paulus, as their pilots to assist them in navigating the route.
Roodley Gowaseb, the team captain of the para-cycling athletes said training is going well but mentally some of the athletes are still not ready for the challenge.
“Physically the guys are showing that they will do it seeing as the race is dived into four stages, but we now need to work on the mental preparation as this will be our first time competing in this dash with hand cycles,” he said, adding that it will be a tough ride, but they are preparing for that.
Founder of the Run Along Foundation, Jean-Paul Schmidt, said the para-cyclists have been in camp for quite a while and they are looking forward to making their maiden appearance at the Nedbank Desert Dash 2022.
“The visually impaired team consists of eight cyclists of which four are visually impaired, and the other four act as their pilots. This team has been preparing for this event for the last four months and at the moment, they are in their high mileage stage of training,” he said.
Schmidt added that training sessions have been going well for the athletes who will be traveling to Windhoek in two weeks to do their dry runs as well as get used to the terrain. He also stated that it’s going to be a tough race for the riders, but they are looking forward to showing the world that they can achieve their goals and dreams.
“What one should know is these bikes are not having any modifications like e-bikes which help a rider. Our bikes require a rider to use energy just like any bicycle, so it will be tough for the riders, especially from stage two to five of the dash, but all the team’s hand cyclists and visually impaired cyclists will do their level best during the Desert Dash,” he said.
Nedbank Namibia’s Communications and PR Manager, Selma Kaulinge, applauded the athletes for the hard work they have put in preparation for the Desert Dash.
“I’ve seen clips circulating on social media of the team’s training for the Nedbank Desert Dash, and I am so proud of seeing our country’s very own para-cyclists defy all odds and take on one of the greatest cycling races in the world. At Nedbank Namibia, we understand the importance of diversity and inclusion, and we are excited to be seeing more diverse teams take on the challenge of the Nedbank Desert Dash.” Kaulinge mentioned.
Kaulinge further added that she hopes other para-cycling teams interested in taking part in the Nedbank Desert Dash do so in the coming editions of the race.
“One thing we hardly mention about this race is that there is a camaraderie formed amongst cyclists on the route. We have seen cyclists help each other go over steep inclines, cycle in groups, and show incredible team spirit. This is what all teams can expect when taking part in the race. It is indeed a truly unforgettable experience”, she concluded.
This year, the Nedbank Desert Dash has over 900 cyclists registered to race across the three categories which are Solo Men and Women, Two-Person Teams, and Four Person Teams.