The trails and route are in prime condition for an exciting showdown in tomorrow’s Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival that will decide the national men’s and women’s marathon champion.
Men’s defending national champion and team Specialised Toyota’s Matt Beers has jetted back from the United States to compete in the 90 km marathon and will be out to deliver despite spending most of his time on a gravel bike recently.
Beers has been in good form racing in America and will pose a serious threat for the top local riders who are coming off the back of an exciting KAP sani2c that saw the Imbuko Type (Dev) A Team of Marco Joubert and Wessel Botha claim the overall title.
Both riders will be lining up on the start line for this weekend’s national showpiece and they will also have team-mate and defending Sappi Karkloof Classic champion Stuart Marias alongside them.
Marais, who teamed up with Franko van Zyl for sani2c, finally got the Kar-kloof monkey off his back last year when he won his home classic for the first time and it’s going to be a test for him to defend his title with such a stacked field to compete against.
The men’s field will include the best of the best as Insect Science teammates Keagan Bonekoning and Arno du Toit are also in the mix.
Bontekoning is still in the under-23 age category and will go in as favourite for the age group crown.
The evergreen PYGA Euro Steel pair of Gert Heyns and Philip Buys are also on the entry list and the pair can never be counted out, and following a fourth in 2021 Heyns will be eager to get onto the podium.
De Villiers to defend title
From a women’s perspective, Team Altes Landhaus powered by Madmacs Suzuki/Coopetto’s Yolande de Villiers will be out to defend her crown which she won in the Western Cape last year.
De Villiers will have the trio of Amy McDougall, Sam Sanders and Theresa Ralph breathing down her neck throughout the entire 90 km race if she wants to defend her crown.
Ralph and Sanders recently finished second in the women’s category at the KAP sani2c while McDougall will be hoping that she can better her third-place finish at the national championship in 2021.
Young Jone van Eeden and Karlise Scheepers are the two under-23 riders that will be fighting it out for the age group crown.
The junior riders under 18 will be racing in a shorter 60-km route as they also battle it out for national titles and the chance to represent South Africa at the UCI MTB Marathon World Championships in Denmark later in the year.
The competitive trail runs will be as popular as ever with a 21 km and nine-kilometre option for those taking part.
In the 21 km race both defending champions will return with Ayanda Ngcobo back to defend his crown along with 2021 women’s race winner Nokukhanya Memela.
Both the mountain bike events and the trail running events form part of the popular Quattro ROAG Series, so for the local KZN-based athletes there are some important points on offer this weekend.