Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani General Manager Samantha Croft, Mayor Zandile Gumede, Suncoast Casino Marketing Manager Louise Howell and Executive Sous Chef Clinton Bonhomme.

The Tsogo Sun Amashova Classic – which turns 30 this year – is expected to make a larger than ever contribution to the city’s economy as entries pass the 11 000 mark.

The Amashova, which comprises a mainline event between Durban and Pietermaritzburg as well as two shorter legs – a 65km challenge between Cato Ridge and the Suncoast Casino and a 35km event that starts at Hillcrest and ends at Suncoast – is both the oldest and largest classic cycle race in the country.

It takes place during the so-called ‘quiet’ time on the city’s annual tourism calendar and, together with other high profile events such as the Comrades Marathon and the Dusi Canoe Marathon as well as the upcoming Commonwealth Games, forms part of the eThekwini Municipality’s plan to establish Durban as a major sports tourism destination in South Africa.

In addition, it also positions the city to benefit from the increasing popularity of cycling as a trend and the resulting cycle centred ‘market’ that continues to grow around it.

It therefore fits that, apart from enthusiastic members of the cycling fraternity, the amashova also boasts a far wider audience through television and sports coverage that raises the city’s profile as a world-class tourist destination.

Tsogo Sun Operations Director for Hotels in the KZN region, Mike Jackson, says that the hotel group has seen year on year growth when it came to hotel bookings.

This is Tsogo Sun’s third year as the event’s headline sponsor. In 2014 – the first year that the hotel group put its name to the Amashova – the race drew a record 10 000 entries.

“We’re delighted to be celebrating the Amashova’s 30th anniversary as the race’s continued headline sponsor. We anticipate that our partnership with Amashova is giving the race the opportunity to grow into a cycle challenge that appeals to a wider audience of novices nationally and internationally. Year on year growth in hotel bookings shows the growth in out of town visitors. We look forward to welcoming a host of new riders to the starting line – and of course to many of our hotels in Durban.”

In an attempt to monetize the Amashova, Durban Tourism conducted an economic impact study in 2015. This showed that the Tsogo Sun Amashova brought in an estimated R62-million for the province.

It also showed that national and international entrants stayed for two or three nights and spent an average of R4 278 during their stays.

Besides spending on accommodation and the race itself, this sum also went towards meals at restaurants, tourist activities and other amenities.

The research revealed that, in 2015, 60% of race participants were local and 40% came from other provinces and further afield.

“We had cyclists from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and Namibia. Cyclists from the Netherlands, the USA, the UK, Canada and Australia also participated. This race embodies the outdoor, healthy lifestyle KwaZulu-Natal and Durban have to offer and this is why the race continues to attract riders from all corners of the globe year after year,” says race director, Annie Batchelder.

The Tsogo Sun Amashova Classic was the vision of then Springbok cyclist Dave Wiseman who dreamt of a cycle race that followed the famous Comrades Marathon route. Since its humble beginnings in 1986, it has grown from a mere 350 entrants to a prediction of over 11 000 in the 2016 race.

Starting off at 95kms, adjustments have been made to the route over the years to reach the current distance of 106km.

In 1999, the race underwent a branding makeover and was named the Amashovashova which means ‘put forward’ or ‘push’ in Zulu.

With the addition of the 35km and 65km routes as well as the Minishova 1km and 5km events, the race also started appealing to social riders and spectators as a well organised and fun day out for the whole family.

This year’s Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic takes place on the 16th October 2016. Late entries are available at registration at the Garden Court Marine Parade on the following days:

  • Thursday, 13th of October 13h00 – 18h00
  • Friday, 14th of October 09h00 – 18h00
  • Saturday, 15th of October 09h00 – 16h00

For more information about the race and road closures, please visit the website the Tsogo Sun Amashova website, www.shova.co.za.