Cousins primed for bitter sweet MTB success


Words: Cara Giraudeau

KZN South Coast locals, Darryn Purtell and Hayley Smith have thrown their names into the elite contender hat for the upcoming inaugural Seebreeze Build-It Bitter Sweet MTB Challenge. Purtell and Smith head into the race which takes place on 17 and 18 October in marvelous form having captured a remarkable third place finish at the grueling 900km long Joberg2C earlier this year. The Bitter Sweet MTB Challenge two-day stage race is also open to under-19's since the routes do not exceed 60-kilometres on either day so, despite attracting some top competitors, riders of all skill levels are invited to take part.

Photo credit: Andrew "Boogs'' McFadden

The pair of cousins who will be sponsored by Team Bell Equipment add real flavour to what promises to be an exhilarating event at the Rocky Bay Resorts trails in Park Rynie. Having grown up in the region the duo hold intrinsic knowledge of the terrain and will no doubt be one of the teams to watch as far as the overall title is concerned.

Purtell began riding at the age of sixteen and has enjoyed a meteoric rise in South Africa's fastest growing sport.

The former under 23 provincial champion has made a major impact at various stage races around the country registering three top ten finishes at Joberg 2C races in the elite men's category.

"I am hoping to be as fit as I can possibly be for the race. It has been an exciting year so far and I cannot wait to compete at this event,"Purtell said.

The 24-year-old is also a renowned triathlete. Over the past three years he has captured two South African Xterra titles, two national X-Tri titles and two medals (silver and bronze) at the South African National Triathlon Championship.

Later this month the BCOM Finance student heads to Italy to compete in the World X-Tri Triathlon Championships.

"Competing in triathlon has helped me a lot. The cross training has made me a lot fitter allowing me to really push my limits when I am riding," Purtell explained.

Smith boasts an equally impressive resume'.

She is the current under-23 national cross country champion.

"It has been an interesting year for me. I did not start well but winning the national championships was great. Now I am hoping to finish it well with a win at the Seebreeze Build-It Bitter Sweet MTB Challenge," Smith said.

It was at a World Cup event back 2012 when she announced her arrival as she claimed the junior women's cross-country race at the age of 17.

"My career has progressed well since and I cannot wait to partner up with my cousin again and race on the South Coast," Hayley said.

Smith and Purtell have proved their family synergy over arduous, undulating distances in the past so a 100km two-stage race could see them employ high-paced race tactics.

"We grew up together and have been riding as a team for a while now. We know how each other rides. That helps because it allows us to read each other on the day," Purtell explained.

He continued, "It is not a very long race but that will not make it any easier. It will be fast and that means the racing will be hot, so it won't leave any margin for error."

Purtell and Smith will compete at the popular Berg and Bush Mountain Bike race next month before they bring their talents to the Bitter Sweet showdown.

MTB enthusiasts are still able to enter the highly-anticipated two-day race. Entry for a team of two will cost R3 500, while single entries will be charged at R2 000 each. In addition to a spectacular experience, entrants will receive a complimentary goodie bag and a t-shirt. The price also includes access to both days of the two-stage event, as well as dinner on Friday, breakfast, light lunch and dinner function on Saturday. Breakfast will be served on Sunday morning.

Accommodation for entrants is not included in the entry fee, however Rocky Bay Resort is offering the following specials to all entrants:-

Log Cabin Accommodation at Rocky Bay Resorts
R1100 per TEAM entry and R825 per SINGLE entry -

Camp site at Rocky Bay Resorts
R540 per TEAM and R405 per SINGLE entry -
Own caravan/tent required

Race Entry with tented accommodation included – including 2-man tent & 2 mattresses at Rocky Bay Resorts
R3500 per TEAM entry & R2000 per SINGLE entry, more information is available on
Own sleeping bags/pillows/linen required and limited to 90 tents

To accommodate the families and friends of participants, Rocky Bay Resort will be running a special over the race weekend. Log cabin accommodation will cost R275 per person sharing, while bringing children between the ages of 5 and 12 will cost just R135 each per night. Kids under 5 get to stay for free.

If your family can't get enough of the outdoors, camping is the way to go. It's only R135 per person per night, or R70 per night for children between the ages of 5 and 12. Again, there's no charge for kids under 5.

Get your entries in for the Seabreeze Build-It 'Bitter-Sweet' MTB Challenge now by logging on to

For more information in English, isiZulu or Afrikaans, please do not hesitate to contact Lodge Reception on 039 976 0336 or