Community Chest Unogwaja Challenge Team 2020 Application Process & Information  

Apply to join us for our 10th Anniversary Challenge in 2020 

Tuesday 2 June 2020 – Sunday 14 June 2020 (Comrades Day) 

What is the Challenge About? 

The Community Chest Unogwaja Challenge is a journey of hope across South Africa on a bicycle from Cape Town to the start of Comrades. This epic feat follows in the footsteps of the youngest winner of the Comrades Marathon – Phil Masterton-Smith. In 1933 he didn’t have money to get to Pietermaritzburg to take part in the race, so he got on his bicycle and cycled almost 1800 kilometres to live his dreams! 

The purpose of this journey over and above raising funds to support educational and community projects, is to inspire action in our nation – showing others that together we can overcome adversity. As active and involved citizens we have the power to change the story for a brighter tomorrow for all South Africans, leaving nobody behind.  

Phil Masterton-Smith epitomised what it means to be an Unogwaja by his spirit of never giving up despite his circumstances, but we understand that alone we can only go so far. We believe that a team of individuals following their hearts is the spark that will ignite change across South Africa and the world! 

Our goal for 2020 is to have over 20 Unogwaja taking part in the cycle who understand the true meaning of this 


  • Lower entry fee to allow for more inclusivity 
  • Two extra days to experience more community interaction along the route 
  • We are aiming for 20 riders (12 was the number previously) 
  • Riders will be assigned a mentor to ride in a group with, so not all Unogwaja have to cycle at the same speed 
  • The ride is way more self-sufficient and riders must help each other with things like punctures and make sure that nobody gets left behind 
  • There are no frills – we provide the basics and riders must take responsibility for themselves at the end of the day  
  • Riders do not need to run Comrades but if they don’t, they must support their fellow Unogwaja on the day 

We are also looking for volunteer crew who will be part of the journey and will show their courage and commitment by sacrificing themselves to serve and support those cycling.   

Overcoming differences and working as a team is as important as meeting the physical and financial requirements of the Challenge. This brings us to the most important character of an Unogwaja – the courage to follow your heart. 

This is how Unogwaja was born, by founder John McInroy and a group of friends, who decided to follow their hearts. They in turn inspired others to do the same to build what over the last nine years has become a legacy of hope that has touched many lives – from the riders and supporters, to the people along the route and of course our beneficiaries. They have all become part of the story of Unogwaja.  

Will you help shape the future of the Community Chest Unogwaja Challenge by taking part in the 10th Anniversary Challenge, which marks a rebirth of the journey under the Community Chest Umbrella? Now is your time to shine! Will you stand up and be counted? Help us show the world that we are indeed #bettertogether  

We would recommend watching all previous videos as a good starting point to understanding what the Community Chest Unogwaja Challenge is all about.  

Formal Entry Requirements 

  • A R500 non-refundable application fee must be paid to the Community Chest Unogwaja Challenge – to be submitted with your application. Failure to do so will deem your application incomplete. Note: 2019 applicants do not need to pay this fee if they paid the R1000 in 2018/2019. 
  • Upon invitation to join Unogwaja 2020, successful applicants will be asked to contribute a R9500 entry fee per person, which is substantially lower than previous years as we aim to make the Challenge more inclusive. Note: We are open to helping applicants attain sponsorships for this if they cannot afford the entry and can prove this.  Note 1: This includes food, lodging, transportation of bags and safety only. Please note it EXCLUDES transport to Cape Town and back from DurbanNote 2: Team kit must be purchased in addition to this.  Note 3: This amount is NON REFUNDABLE except under exceptional circumstances. Note 4: The decision of Unogwaja is final. 
  • Corporate entries are available for those who wish to represent their organisation. Please email to find out more.  
  • Each Unogwaja team member will be given their own personal fundraising target according to their circumstances (minimum fundraising requirement for those who choose to take part in Comrades is R6000, over and above the entry fee). We hope that everyone will make the most of their own individual potential. 

Application/Selection & Key Dates 

  • Thursday 1 August 2019: Applications Open 
  • Monday 26 August 2019: Applications Close 
  • After an initial application screening process, a short list of applicants will be interviewed via Skype by a member of the Unogwaja Alumni/Selection Panel. 
  • Monday 9 September 2019: Team Unogwaja 2020 Announced 
  • Monday 30 September 2019: R9500 entry fee paid (NON REFUNDABLE) 
  • Friday 31 January 2020: 50% fundraising target reached per Unogwaja. 
  • Thursday 30 April 2019: 100% fundraising target reached per Unogwaja. 
  • Unogwaja who choose to run Comrades Marathon must submit a Comrades Marathon qualifier information to the race organisers before May (dates TBC).  

Guidelines for Full Unogwaja Challenge Applications  

Physical Competence 

  • Physical competence (and evidence thereof) is essential. 
  • You must be able to complete up to 200km on a bicycle in a day unassisted.

Entry Fee 

  • R9500 
  • Note: This is highly subsidised and dependent on current sponsorship. Therefore should any sponsorship fall away we may work out as a team how to manage this. 

Financial Plan 

  • We recognise that people’s circumstances differ and we do not want anybody to feel they cannot take part because of financial pressures. As part of the application process anybody who feels they may need assistance will be able to discuss this with us.  
  • Note: We will also assess your personal circumstances as we do not want people going into debt or risking financial position to take part. It is essential you are open with us about this as it is not fair on anyone if you are suffering in your personal circumstances on top of the pressures and expectations of being part of Unogwaja. 

Fundraising Plan 

  • Each team member will be asked to present a fundraising plan that will enable you to realistically reach your own fundraising target agreed with us. This can differ greatly from person to person and will agree minimum fundraising commitments with each person. 
  • Note 1: You are NOT asking people to sponsor you for cycling across the country and doing Comrades, this is your privilege. You are asking people to support education and community development in our country. 


We will allocate ‘mentors’ (Alumni) to each Unogwaja for support throughout your journey. This will be someone who has been through what you are going through and can support you every step of the way. This person will not be doing the hard graft for you but will be able to guide you and give you a support base to lean on regarding physical prep and fundraising in particular, plus the many other ups and downs you may encounter along the way. 

Successful applicants will need the following:

  • Full Medical/travel insurance and clear procedure in case of emergency
  • Sign indemnities that they enter at their own risk
  • Arrange suitable travel arrangements (including visas where applicable) to and from the Challenge. Arrival: Monday 1 June 2020
  • Depart: Monday 15th June late morning after team closing function
  • Suitable bike for the journey 
  • Comrades Qualification if you plan to complete the Comrades and the journey (as per normal CMA rules; no special dispensation or assistance) 


 Support Crew 

There is nothing more powerful than the heart of a volunteer and Unogwaja has been a first-hand example of this magic. The support crew selection is equally as important, if not more important than the Unogwajas themselves. 

It is not about the Unogwajas or the support crew, it is about one group of people working towards the same goal together, and this also goes beyond the event itself. 

Support crew do not pay entry but will be asked to raise funds for our beneficiaries based on their circumstances. 

Skills that are essential to our journey: 

  • Physio 
  • Medics 
  • Bike mechanic 
  • Photographer 
  • Videographer 
  • Social media specialist/ blogger/media liaison 
  • Driving for long periods at slow pace! (full licence essential) 
  • Logistics/ Behind the scenes logistics – set up base camp ahead of arrival each day 

While skill is a key factor in selecting the support crew, a huge heart and enthusiasm to be part of the journey and the overall mission – plus a proven track record of working under pressure in diverse teams, showing initiative and take instructions and implement when needed – are essential characteristics. 


Unogwaja Challenge reserves the right to review team participation at any stage & our decision is final. 

Final Message 

This journey is about following your heart and remember there is no such thing as failure if you do. Well done to everyone brave enough to put it out there and regardless of this particular outcome a journey of a lifetime awaits.