Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival Diary Note

 No: kc1706

25 May 2017

Embargo : None

Written by : Nick Tatham

Outdoor enthusiasts flooding to Karkloof Classic Trail Fest

Karkloof – The versatile and popular Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival is set to attract some of the top athletes in various mountain biking and trail running disciplines as well as many of the more social runners and riders when the two-day festival of activities takes place on Saturday and Sunday.

The event has evolved in recent times to include a number of different races within the mountain biking and trail running spheres. The STIHL Karkloof Enduro, for example, has developed into an event that attracts riders from both a downhill and cross-country background.

The Sappi Karkloof Classic became a trail festival in 2016 when organisers decided to introduce a number of trail running races to cater for those non-riders. The success of the trail running events in 2016 has led the race to include a second 9km trail run on Sunday to go with the 18km and 9km races on Saturday.

The STIHL Enduro will be the focus for the two-wheeled adrenalin seekers on Saturday. Tiaan Odendaal has won both of the previous enduro races at Karkloof, however, with neither him nor the rest of last year’s top five on the pre-race entry list, 2017 might see a first-time winner.

The ladies event is in stark contrast to the men’s with both previous winners, Kim Westbrook (2015) and Kathryn Fourie (2016) set to gun down the Karkloof trails for a shot a victory. They will have their work cut out for them as young Sabine (Beanie) Thies will be eyeing her first Karkloof Enduro title.

Saturday’s programme also includes two trail runs with the Karkloof 18km and 9km races taking place and set to attract many trail running enthusiasts.

Despite not having featured in the 2016 event, the 2017 race forms part of the Quattro ROAG Trail Running series and although series leader Mark Mackenzie has not entered the event, the man chasing him on the leader board, David Mercer will be running.

The ladies field semi-mirrors the men’s with none of the top five from 2016 returning to the event. ROAG Series leader Wendy Mills will be on the start line and hoping to increase her lead in the series.

Sunday’s action is often seen as the most important with the Sappi Karkloof 60km Marathon pitting some of the nation’s best mountain biking stars against one another for a shot at one of the most prestigious one-day marathon crowns.

2017’s field might not pack the same punch as previous years but it will see a battle of the ages come to the fore. Having missed out on the title in 2016 to Brendon Davids, Concept Cyclery Ballito’s Julian Jessop has his sights set on a maiden Karkloof crown.

Jessop has been in fine form of late after he finished fifth overall at the KAP sani2c with Team TIB partner Andrew Hill, and followed that up with a fourth overall at the South African MTB Marathon Championships in Pietermaritzburg last weekend.

Standing in his way will be one of the country’s most successful marathon racers, Max Knox. The 2016 South African marathon champion, who rode to fourth overall at the Absa Cape Epic with Colombian Hector Leonardo Paez Leon, last won at Karkloof in 2015 and will be hoping for overall glory again two years later.

A dark horse for the Karkloof crown is Julian’s younger brother Thomas Jessop. The 19 year-old finished eighth at the national marathon championship which is an indication that he is in good form going into the weekend.

Christie-Lee Hearder leads the way in both the Quattro ROAG Series as well as on the entry list in the ladies race on Sunday. The 19 year-old has dominated the series thus far and with Natalie Bergstrom absent from the entry list the race might be hers to lose should there be no last minute entrants.

With 229 confirmed entries, the aQuellé 40km Half Marathon is the most subscribed event at the Karkloof Classic Trail Festival this year. With terrific trails and good weather it is a great opportunity for people new to the sport to cut their teeth on some forgiving single track.

The large numbers that have entered the aQuellé 20km Family Ride and the aQuellé 10km Kids Run & Ride is a testament to the popularity of the event and how organisers have made it a weekend for the whole family.

The racing gets underway on Saturday morning with the 18km Trail Run starting at 07:00 and the 9km Trail Run beginning at 07:30. The STIHL Karkloof Enduro begins at 12:00pm.

More info can be found at


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Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival Logo - GIF


Concept Cyclery Ballito's Julian Jessop will have his eyes on a maiden Sappi Karkloof 60km Marathon title this Sunday at another exciting instalment of the Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival from Saturday, 27 to Sunday, 28 May.

Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

The adrenalin seeking STIHL Karkloof Enduro riders will be in for a treat during the 2017 edition at the Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival from Saturday, 27 to Sunday, 28 May.

Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

Trail runners will be spoilt for choice in 2017 as they have the chance to take on an 18km or 9km run on Saturday or the 9km race on Sunday at the Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival from Saturday, 27 to Sunday, 28 May.

Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

In what has become an entire weekend of fun for the whole family, 2017 will be no different as parents and children from all over prepare to flock to the Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival from Saturday, 27 to Sunday, 28 May.

Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

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