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Lachlan Morton is doing The Munga

The EF Education-Nippo will take on the 1000-km MTB race across the South African desert

Photo by: EF Education-Nippo

They say good things come in threes. The Alt Tour. Cape Epic. And now The Munga. Less than six weeks after wrapping up Cape Epic, Lachlan Morton will once again find himself in South Africa. This time it’s to race The Munga, a 1000 kilometer mountain bike race across the South African desert in the height of summer. With a 100 hour time limit and about 6,500 m of elevation gain, the race features ten water stations along the course as well as five supported race villages where the competitors can rest, refuel, and get mechanical help. Apart from that, Lachlan and the other riders will receive no outside help. “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. “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.”

Photo: EF Education First-Nippo

Not knowing the course specifics would understandably stress out a lot of riders, but Lachlan finds that appealing, freeing even. “The big thing for me as far as a mental mindset going into something like this is to never have too many preconceived ideas of what it’s going to be. I’ve always found the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had have been when it seems like I’m not super prepared. It frees up your mind to be able to take it as it comes as opposed to having a really strict idea of your plan and what it’s going to be and then not knowing how to adapt when it doesn’t really go that way,” he said.

That’s not to say that he’s going into The Munga completely blind. Lachlan said that “for this race, 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.” Racing through the Karoo desert in the midst of summer means high temperatures in the day that will plummet come nightfall and Lachlan has to be prepared to ride through both extremes.

Weather will be a factor

“It’s a very harsh environment that the race travels through,” Lachlan said. “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.”

Ultra racing expert

By now, Lachlan is something of an old hand at ultra racing but it feels like a brand new adventure every time he’s on the start line. “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.” When he inevitably faces tough moments, Lachlan remembers why he’s out there, on his own, riding his bike in extreme conditions, when he could be relaxing at home. “If I didn’t want this difficult moment, I shouldn’t have come at all,” he says. “You just have to take that. 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.”