Living in Australia i am worried about the support i would have if i had a problem with a bike. I assume it would be the same for you in South Africa. For this reason i would skip the “exotic” Santa Cruz, Ibis, Kona type bikes and stick with the big 3. If South Africa is anything like Australia (i think it is) you want a bike that pedals well because of the vast distances you will probably end up riding. Maybe you could try a Trance? I have seen people race XC (non competitive) on them.