subscribe Support our award-winning journalism. The Premium package (digital only) is R30 for the first month and thereafter you pay R129 p/m now ad-free for all subscribers.
Subscribe now

On a good day you can see forever from the Water Tower at the top of Northcliff Hill in Johannesburg. It’s the best way to see the timeless, endless horizon of the sprawl of Joburg, a city that is as much at odds with its present and past as it is endlessly pursuing a sense of meaning and being as it races to an unsure and exciting future.

The Water Tower is the city’s love seat, where Joburgers come to remind themselves why they adore the place, where out-of-towners can go to finally get the wonder of Egoli. The top of Northcliff Hill is not an easy place to get to. Like anything worth anything in Joburg, it takes a bit more effort than you may be used to.

For several months, and, indeed, over the years, David Higgs has been able to see the start and finish of the Absa Cape Epic from Northcliff Hill. It is where he goes many mornings at 5.30am to fill his lungs, empty his legs and measure his performance against the last time he smashed up the hill. It’s a hell of a climb, the second-highest point in Johannesburg after Observatory Ridge.

If David looks to his right, he may be able to see Marang House in the Parks of Johannesburg, for whom he and Daryl Impey will be riding the Cape Epic to raise funds. Marang House “provides a nurturing home environment” aged from four to 14, empowering them to learn and manage their illnesses. These children have serious health conditions that need continuous monitoring and specialised treatments at a teaching hospital.

“Within our facilities, we can accommodate up to 12 children, offering not just essential provisions like clothes, housing, and food, but also round-the-clock medical care. Importantly, we ensure that their education remains a priority by bringing them to the hospital daily, where they receive disease-management training alongside traditional schooling.

“The reality for children suffering from chronic illnesses is a harsh one. Many families simply cannot afford the constant medical care, supervision, and suitable environment required for their children’s wellbeing. The road to overcoming these illnesses seems like an uphill battle, filled with daily routines of testing, dialysis, and the uncertain waiting game for organ transplants. In 1998, Marang House emerged as a beacon of hope, dedicated to bringing light into the lives of SA’s seriously ill children.”

It’s as fine a reason as any to ride the Cape Epic and David, the chef patron of the Marble group of restaurants, and Daryl, Tour de France stage winner and yellow jersey wearer, will ride as The Okes (team number 237) for a 617km Epic that looks, on paper, to be one of the toughest yet. They had set themselves a target of R300,000. At the time of writing, they had raised R890K and are now looking to push past the R1m mark.

They will be riding in special jerseys for the race, which are available from Ciovita, the SA company and partner of the Epic. Every jersey sold will see R1,000 go directly to Marang House. 

I am sure Bok captain John Smit has been to the top of Northcliff Hill, but perhaps Butch James, his partner for the Epic, will not have made it up there. Butch played in Joburg for the Lions for a spell, so, perhaps he did. He and John will be joining up to ride the Epic for the first time together as “Barney’s Army 111“. 

“The Barney’s Army team are tackling the Epic with the aim to raise funds and awareness for Barney’s Army and the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund,” said John. “The Players’ Fund supports catastrophically injured rugby players in SA. Our goal is to raise R617K. That translates to R1,000 per kilometre cycled. The proceeds of this fundraising will be split 50/50 between Barney’s Army and the Players’ Fund, who are in dire need of powered wheelchairs for their recipients.”

For these two teams, these four riders, and the many others riding for others or in memory of friends and family, the hope and the goal is to make the rest of us see what forever could be, to pursue a sense of meaning and care in what is an unsure future for many. David, Daryl, Butch and John want us to fall in love with their view of the endless horizon of life. 

 • To support David and Daryl, donate to Marang House here.

 To support John and Butch click here.

subscribe Support our award-winning journalism. The Premium package (digital only) is R30 for the first month and thereafter you pay R129 p/m now ad-free for all subscribers.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.