The Kansanshi Cycling Team dominated the racing at last weekend’s 76km Elephant Epic mountain bike race, which started at Leopard’s Hill in Lusaka and finished on the banks of the Lower Zambezi. Building on his success in international racing this year, Michael Olokani from Kansanshi took the win in a time of 2 hours 23 minutes and 48 seconds, edging out his teammates Davies Kawemba and Ernest Mazabuka, by just a handful of seconds. The race was really tight.
In the women’s race, Antoinette Du Rand of Lusaka took the win in a time of 2 hours 59 minutes, ahead of Kansanshi’s Anita Yama and Rebecca Chiyuka.
The route followed a gravel road that winds its way through the Zambezi escarpment, taking on challenging climbs and steep, twisting descents, with expansive views of the valley below. Once it reached the valley floor, the route veered away from the gravel, using established footpaths to make its way to Kiambi Lodge, on the banks of the Zambezi river.
Whilst the Elephant Epic is a prestigious race on the Zambian calendar, it is also a very successful charity event. Last weekend’s race was the tenth edition of the event, which has now raised over K1.6 million for conservation efforts by its organisers, Game Rangers International (GRI).
GRI have put the funds to good use by supporting wildlife law enforcement, setting up conservation education programs, and conducting wildlife rescues in various locations around Zambia. The funds also support the Lilayi Elephant Orphanage, where orphaned elephants are expertly rehabilitated before being returned to the wild. Elephants are an extremely endangered species, and efforts such as those by GRI are absolutely essential for their survival.
This year’s race marks the third time that First Quantum Minerals is supporting the event, with a sponsorship of K130,000. This contributed to a total amount of K320,000 raised this year. While the event and the areas it supports are outside of the North Western province where FQM operates, the support is well within the ethos of nature and wildlife conservation that the company believes in. In addition to its support of the Elephant Epic, FQM operates nature reserves within the mine leases of its two copper mines in Zambia, and supports conservation efforts in and around West Lunga national park.
“Sponsoring an event like this is fantastic for us, because it speaks to our belief in the work-life balance, and in being involved in our communities,” said Sean Egner, FQM’s Kalumbila Mine General Manager, who also took part in the event and finished within the top 20. “It is very important for us to give back to society, and to participate in the protection of Zambia’s natural heritage” said Egner.
The Zambian cycling season has resumed, after many events were put on hold by the third wave of COVID-19. The next major race will be the Kansanshi Cycling weekend, scheduled for the 11th and 12th September, to be hosted by FQM’s Kansanshi Mine.