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In Swahili, fursa means opportunity.
And for Kenyan cyclists Sule Kangangi, Geoffrey Langat, John Kariuki, and Nancy Akinyi, opportunity means traveling to three premiere gravel races in the United States.
Nearly a month and a half after the inaugural Migration Gravel Race, the founders of the event, along with partners at Wahoo Sports Science, have made a selection of the top-performing East African riders from the field of nearly 25 Kenyans, Ugandans, and Rwandans who competed in the race. The four Kenyans were selected based on an analysis of performance data from the months leading up to the race, as well as through a subjective assessment on the ground by the race founders and other riders.
Kangangi, Langat, Kariuki, and Akinyi’s upcoming trip to the United States to race SBT GRVL, BWR Asheville, and Vermont Overland represents the next step in the mission and vision of the Migration Gravel Race.
“We went from a very uncertain future to one where, if we work hard and perform, we just may be able to create some opportunities for ourselves for now and maybe for the future,” Kangangi said. “On gravel, we can go straight to the start line and square off with the best in the world without going through the process of finding pro teams to back us, so we see this trip to the U.S. as a chance to show the world what we can achieve.”
The mission of the Migration Gravel Race centers around opportunity: to give athletes from Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda access to high-level international competition near their home; to catalyze interest in gravel racing in those nations; to provide East African riders the opportunity to compete against world-class talent without having to clear the many hurdles that riders encounter on the way to professional road racing.
Unbound Gravel’s 2021 winner Ian Boswell traveled to the Migration Gravel Race to provide some of the high-level competition and also to help assess which East African riders showed the most potential for gravel competition back in the States. At the end of the race, he achieved those two goals and realized even more.
“I see so much of myself in them,” Boswell told VeloNews. “People in the U.S. always complain about racing, ‘oh I didn’t know the right people,’ or ‘it’s so political.’ But you don’t know what people are up against. I see how badly they want it. They’re so hungry for it and you’ll do anything possible. But if there’s no chance to make it happen, it’s impossible. That’s what’s been so unfair, they want it but that isn’t always enough.”
Fursa means opportunity.