The 2023 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival will once again provide trail runners and mountain bikers with adrenaline-pumping trails and typically friendly KZN Midlands hospitality for the two days of racing this weekend.
The trails around the Marriott Karkloof Club have become famous amongst riders and runners over the years and this weekend the network is primed to offer an exciting mix of technical and free-flowing routes that will have something for everyone, from novices to elites.
Saturday’s action gets underway with the popular 21km and 9km trail runs. Trail running has become a staple in the Karkloof region and the ever-popular Karkloof forest routes will once again attract a large entry for the two events on Saturday.
From a competitive perspective, as it stands there is a past champion returning, however with late entries open there is a good chance that some of the past years’ champions will be on the start-line this Saturday.
In the men’s race, Nomore Mandivengerei is back for a chance to win back the title that he last won in 2018, however, he has consistently over the years been in the top five so a shot at the top step of the podium is on in 2023.
The women’s race sees 2021 champion Sarah Gray emerge as the early favourite for the title. Gray finished second in 2022 behind Chantelle Pennicott which added to her handful of other second placed finishes at Karkloof.
Gray will be hoping to go one better this weekend and add to her Quattro ROAG Series points tally that sees her top of the pile with two wins and second so far in the series.
The 60km mountain bike marathon will be the clear focus on Sunday from an elite racing perspective, and the younger guard seem to be dominating the entry list for the race.
This year’s field hasn’t attracted the same prestige as 2022, when the event hosted the SA Marathon Championships, but from a local racing perspective it’s drawn in the best.
Young Michael Foster will be on the start line along with another youngster in Daniel van der Watt as well as Keegan Tullis.
The experienced campaigners Tyronne White and David Low will also provide a significant threat to the top step of the podium over the 60km of racing this weekend.
As it stands the women’s race in the 60km marathon will be the most exciting race to watch with quality across the top five title contenders.
HH Women’s Racing’s Sarah Hill will be the favourite for the women’s title, however, she will come under pressure by a few of the local KZN riders.
Hillcrest resident and Sandton City Cycle Nation’s Joanne van de Winkel is coming off a double win in both the MTB and road race at the recent aQuellé Tour Durban, so she is in good form, while Bell Equipment’s Hayley Smith is another rider to watch.
Smith finished first in the mixed category at the recent KAP sani2c so her form is evident and the Durban North resident is eager to add the Karkloof Classic to her list of wins.
Ballito’s Rouxda Grobler is another rider that will be fighting for the title and will be eager to win the title she last won in 2021.
Registration will take place at the Marriott Karkloof Club on Saturday from 06:30 to 08:00 and then 06:00 to 09:15 on Sunday.
More info can be found at https://www.karkloofclub.co.za/events/sappi-karkloof-classic-trail-festival-2023/
Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival 2023
SATURDAY 27th MAY
07h30 – 21km Trail Run
08h00 – 9km Trail Run
SUNDAY 28th MAY
07h30 – 60km MTB
08h15 – 40km MTB
08h45 – 9km Trail Fun Run
08h50 – 20km MTB
09h15 – 10km MTB