The Munga MTB Race in South Africa Pays its Winners with Bitcoin

Who wants a fat wad of bytes the next time they make the podium?
Photo: The Munga MTB Race

The Munga Mountain Bike Race in South Africa, which advertises itself as the “toughest race on earth,” will pay its top finishers in all three categories with a total of 1.5 bitcoin in prize money. How much is bitcoin currently valued at? Currently, 1.5 units of the decentralized cryptocurrency — which sees major fluctuations regularly — is worth $13,974. The top finishers in each category would then each share about $4,670, or just over 78,000 South African Rands. That comes out to roughly $1,560 a person, or 26,000 SAR.

Bitstamp, a popular Bitcoin exchange, started sponsoring the Munga in 2015 when the race launched. According to, last year’s event also had a total of 1.5 bitcoin, and that was split over three categories; men, women, and what the organizers call a development category, featuring non-white mountain bikers.

Although the idea of getting paid in a digital currency might be laughable to some, the Munga race itself sounds like it’s no joke. The Munga MTB Race is a single stage race in the South African summer, scheduled for December 2-9, and the course runs from Bloemfontein to Wellington. Temperatures near about 90° during the day in December. The total length is 1,000 km, or about 620 miles, with over 23,000 feet of elevation gain.

Bitstamp approached the race directors about using bitcoin as prize money in the beginning of the race. Bitcoin says that the South African Reserve Bank doesn’t regulate cryptocurrency and that the 1.5 bitcoin goes to a Munga Bitstamp account before it’s shelled out. Prize winners can either hold on to their bitcoin or have race organizers sell it, and get an exact amount in South African Rand back.

As with any large race like the Munga, entry is not cheap. There is no qualifier, so it’s open to anyone and entrants pay about $1,366, or 23,000 SAR. The event is limited to 150 riders, but there doesn’t appear to be any information about whether this year’s event will be limited due to coronavirus. The Munga says that the race is about 50% non-technical dirt road, so a gravel bike might be the tool for the job, and experienced bikepacking racers will probably have a hand up. Just don’t forget a hard drive to collect the prize money.

See more about the race at the Munga website.