Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival Diary Note

 No: kc1701

30 Apr 2017

Embargo : None

Written by : Dave Macleod

2017 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival expanded and improved

Howick - The 2017 edition of the hugely popular Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival will take place on 27 and 28 May, now well established in its Autumn slot in the regional MTB and trail running calendar and expanding to cater for the festival's growing demand.

Built around the iconic 60km Sappi Karkloof Classic marathon, the event has grown over the years to include MTB races to cater for riders of all abilities, and this year will once again offer the 40km aQuellé Half Marathon, the 20km aQuellé Family Ride, and the popular 10km aQuellé Kids Ride.

The trails through the plantations in the Karkloof have become a magnet for trail runners, and the establishment of the trail running events at last year's festival was very well supported, prompting the organisers to add a new trail running event to the Sunday programme in 2017, using trails totally separate to the ongoing MTB races.

The event has been a pioneer in the rapid evolution of mountain biking from a fringe recreational pastime to the very popular mass participation sport that is is today, and has been at the forefront of evolving to cater for the growing demands of the MTB community.

Using the team tasked with the day-to-day running of the Karkloof MTB club-run 200km of trails through the Sappi forests, the event, based at the Karkloof Country Club, is widely regarded as a benchmark event that provides well groomed, testing single track and jeep track in a region that boasts a multitude of family-orientated tourist offerings.

With the date of the festival avoiding clashes with the major multi-day stage races and the Comrades Marathon on 4 June, the race attracts a big field of riders, including many of the country's top elite racers.

Star performers in recent years have included Andrew Hill, Darren Lill, Max Knox and Brendon Davids, who is the current defending champion after downing a strong field that included Olympian Alan Hatherley, Brandon Stewart and Julian Jessop.

With a core Enduro community active in the area, the weekend will once again include the STIHL Karkloof Enduro on the Saturday afternoon, offering a chance for the brave men and women to test their speed on the timed descents that the Karkloof has become famous for.

Based on the enthusiastic response to the recent enduro event at the Sappi Howick MTB Classic, the thriving KZN enduro community will be looking forward to sharing the Karkloof enduro with the thrill-seeking MTB regulars on the Saturday afternoon.

This year the finish of the events on the Sunday will feature live music at the Country Club venue, as the organisers seek to add value to the relaxed family orientated weekend.

More than 100 visitors to the race take advantage of the camping on offer at the race venue to set up their own homes-away-from-home at the Country Club campsite.

The 2017 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival takes place at the Karkloof Country Club on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 May 2017. More info can be found at


Photo Caption Photographer Click to download the hi-res pic

Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival Logo - GIF


Trek's Brendon Davids clinched a morale boosting win at last year's Sappi Karkloof Marathon, the feature race of the Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival.

Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

Trek's Brendon Davids charges through the Gauntlet en route to victory at last year's Sappi Karkloof Marathon.

Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

Trek's Brendon Davids leads the 60km Sappi Karkloof Marathon at the 2016 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival.

Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

Sappi's plantations will once again play host to all the action of the STIHL Karkloof Enduro at the 2017 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival.

Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

Mdu Zondi won the inaugural 21km trail run at last year's Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival.

Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

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