On the evening of Thursday, 21 September, the George Municipality Disaster Management deemed the 2023 Lions Karoo to Coast unsafe to proceed, due to expected adverse weather conditions on Sunday, 24th September 2023. This decision, though by-in-large supported by the riders registered to participate in the event, has implications beyond the staging of a mountain bike race. The Lions clubs of Knysna and Uniondale would therefore like to address the issues caused by the cancellation by providing a compensation policy, for discounted 2024 entries, and by providing options for participants to receive the merchandise they ordered with their entries.

At the time of the cancelation George Municipality were quick to offer their apologies to everyone looking forward to the event. “George Municipality apologises for any inconvenience caused due to the cancellation of the event. We thank the participants, and everyone involved for their understanding in this regard,” the disaster management team’s statement read. In hindsight, while there are always individuals who may have felt comfortable venturing out in the storm, the full cancellation was undoubtedly the correct decision. Emergency services were stretched across the Garden Route region and beyond on Sunday. Thereafter, as the weather worsened through Sunday night, numerous roads were closed which would have made it virtually impossible for some riders to travel home after the event.

“It was with a heavy heart that we consented to the cancellation of the 2023 Lions Karoo to Coast,” race director Zandile Meneses stated. “Following two years of Covid in 2020 and 2021 we were looking forward to getting back to staging the race in all its glory. Being forced by circumstances beyond our control to call it off, at short notice, is almost as heartbreaking for us as it is for the riders. More importantly though it affects the beneficiaries and the charitable work they hoped to do in the next twelve months.”

Karoo to Coast

Memories of the 2019 event, which was staged in persistent rain and high winds were still fresh in the minds of many a rider and supporter. Photo by Oakpics.com.

“As the race was cancelled just two days before it was set to take place, virtually all planning and hiring was in place, at huge cost to the NPO,” the Lions of Uniondale President – Steve van Wyngaardt explained. “All proceeds from the event would have gone to people in need. However – as a gesture of goodwill and to help ensure that the Lions Karoo to Coast can continue to drive charitable fund raising in the future – the event will offer all 2023 riders a 33% discount on their 2024 K2C entry. Entries will open in the near future and 2023 riders can follow the prompts to receive their discount.”

Karoo to Coast

Riders who purchased event merchandise along with their 2023 Lions Karoo to Coast entries will be able to collect the merchandise from the 2024 event registration or from Influence Clothing. Alternatively, they can opt to have their apparel couriered to them. Photo by Oakpics.com.

“Riders who ordered race apparel or merchandise with their entries have three options for collecting or receiving their merchandise. A rider communication email will be sent to all riders later this week, reminding them of the 33% discount for 2024, but also prompting them to complete a Google document with the merchandise option list,” Meneses elaborated. “Riders can opt to collect their merchandise at the 2024 event registration, as the products are not year specific, or they can collect directly from Influence Clothing – in Elsies Rivier, Cape Town. The final option is to have the merchandise couriered to the participants, with the event covering the courier costs. The second two options will only be valid for a limited period, thereafter riders will be able to collect their merchandise at the registration for the 2024 Lions Karoo to Coast.”

“Once again, on behalf of the Lions Clubs of Knysna and Uniondale, as well as all the stakeholders and beneficiaries of the Lions Karoo to Coast, we would like to thank every rider registered for the 2023 event for your understanding,” Meneses praised. “We understand the commitment you made to prepare and train for the race, as well as the financial outlays you made. Hopefully that that commitment remains unwavering over the coming 12 months and that the weather plays along in 2024. We will certainly be praying for a perfect 24th edition next year!”

Lions Club

The Lions Karoo to Coast is a nonprofit organization which uses the event to raise funds for a number of charities, while also benefitting the schools and communities along the route. Photo by Oakpics.com.

For more information on the Lions Karoo to Coast visit www.karootocoast.com, or click through to www.karootocoast.com/beneficiaries/ to learn more about the charities the event serves.