The 10th and 11th of June brought the 2023 Stihl Karkloof Enduro about which also served as the 2023 KZN Enduro Championships. The Karkloof Enduro is highly regarded for being a 2 day enduro event, packing in a heap of riding, and of course for the exquisite trails that make up the 10 stages of the race. You can read the recap of each day below and find the top results as well.
Karkloof Enduro Day 2 recap
Chief trail manager at Karkloof Country Club, Keira Duncan, made full use of his home-course advantage to take a convincing lead after Saturday’s opening day of the Stihl Enduro MTB event that forms part of the Sappi Karkloof Classic.
The 23-year-old former national champion set the fastest times of the day at each of the five stages, and will go into Day 2 of the event with a comfortable 46-second lead over Maritzburg College schoolboy Omar Wilson.
In the women’s race, Arielle Behr is locked into a tight battle with pre-race favourite Sabine Thies and holds a tenuous 15-second lead in the race for the women’s provincial title.
Thies opened the day by claiming a narrow three-second win on the opening stage, but was a significant 17-seconds off the pace set by Behr on Stage 2. The 21-year-old favourite looked to be back on track as she reduced the deficit on the next section, but the 16-year-old Behr held her nerve and finished off the day with two more wins, albeit by narrow margins.
With this event doubling as the provincial enduro champs, the fight for the women’s win looks to likely to be the most intriguing battle of the final day on Sunday.
While Duncan looks like he will be tough to beat over the remaining five stages in the men’s event, the struggle for second is a bit tighter with Wilson knowing he cannot afford any slip ups on Sunday. Chasing the talented youngster will be sub-veteran Brandon Waugh, currently in third place and just 13 seconds behind his schoolboy rival. Further back, Jason Davies and Shaun Carlton complete the top five, 26 and 37 seconds further behind respectively.
Duncan set down a marker on the opening stage when he negotiated the Maker Miracle / Rene’s Rumble section eight seconds quicker than Wilson, but really stamped his authority on the opening day by blitzing the second section, Mylly’s Hoola, a massive 18 seconds faster than his nearest rival. At each of the remaining three timed portions of the day, Duncan edged away a little more, and Wilson will probably have to take some big risks tomorrow if he wants to get back into contention.
Selected Results Karkloof Enduro Day 1
1 Keira Duncan 13:23
2 Omar Wilson 14:09
3 Brandon Waugh 14:22
4 Jason Davies 14:48
5 Shaun Charlton 14:59
1 Arielle Behr 16:40
2 Sabine Thies 16:55
3 Amber Cole 18:09
4 Melody French 18:09
5 Jade Davies 18:46
Karkloof Enduro Day 2 recap
Keira Duncan and Arielle Behr continued where they left off and on Sunday duly wrapped up the respective KZN Enduro Championship titles by claiming the men’s and women’s victories at the Stihl Enduro on the final day of action at the Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival.
While Duncan was able to make things looks deceptively easy with a clean sweep of ten wins from the ten legs of the two-day event through the Karkloof Forests, Behr had to keep a wary eye on pre-race favourite Sabine Thies before edging to the win.
Duncan started on Sunday with a 46-second lead over young Omar Wilson and it was always going to be a tough task for the Maritzburg College schoolboy to make up the deficit on trails Duncan knowns intimately.
That task became almost impossible for Wilson on the opening stage of the second day when he fell and dropped behind third-placed Brandon Waugh. That eased the pressure on Duncan and the final four sectors were about consolidation and the 23-year-old former national champion ended up a massive two minutes and 34 seconds clear.
Wilson fought hard to regain second place and he came tantalisingly close to getting ahead of Waugh once again, but the pair ended in the same time at the end of ten sectors and shared the second-step of the podium.
“I am really pleased with how the weekend went,” said Duncan after claiming his convincing victory. “I caught a bit of a cold toward the end of the week and so I just had to do what I could to prepare, but it ended up being OK and I was just happy to be able to put the power down and get the win.
“I was very pleased to have been able to make it a clean sweep of wins on all ten legs.”
Duncan is also the chief trail manager at the Marriott Karkloof Country Club, so he had a double interest in making sure the trails he raced on were in perfect condition.
“Together with the club I think we have been able to put together a nice combination of the best sections of the club’s trails for this enduro.
“At the end of the day we wanted to make sure this event had something for everyone, and I believe we achieved that. We had a combination on nice flowing single-track and some technical sections … it was a nice mixture of the best selection of the best Karkloof track.”
In the women’s event, as with Saturday, 15-year-old Behr and Thies once again swapped fastest times on the opening three sections, but overall Thies was not able to do enough to close the gap and Behr ended the event with a 22-second advantage.
Amber Cole claimed the final step on the podium, 59 seconds further back.
Selected Final Results Karkloof Enduro
1 Keira Duncan 0:27:32
2 Omar Wilson 0:30:06
2 Brandon Waugh 0:30:06
4 Shaun Charlton 0:31:02
5 Jason Davies 0:31:42
6 Liam Read 0:31:44
7 Troy Cole 0:31:50
8 Lorenzo Lotz 0:32:04
9 Oliver Jones 0:33:05
10 Max Van Zyl 0:33:20
1 Arielle Behr 0:35:12
2 Sabine Thies 0:35:34
3 Amber Cole 0:37:33
4 Melody French 0:38:24
5 Tyla-May Smale 0:39:51
Get the full results here and find out more about the Karkloof Country Club and its trails and events here!