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All eyes on Karkloof Classic trails

Defending Karkloof Challenge enduro champion Keira Duncan posted the fastest combined time on the first weekend of the Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge. Picture: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

As the three-week window for the 2020 version of the Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge opened this past weekend, the enduro stars basked in the limelight and scorching Midlands weather.

With the original event in May cancelled, the reshaped event now allows riders and runners to race on the fabled Karkloof trails over a three-week window period, but with special dispensation being given to the elite athletes keen to challenge for the prized Karkloof titles, and get a piece of the prize money on offer.

Enduro racers

The event organisers created two opportunities for the marathoners to race the tough 60km layout but with the Illovo Eston MTB event on Sunday occupying the local MTB elites’ attention, the stage was left clear for the enduro community to steal the limelight.

Defending Sappi Karkloof Classic champion Keira Duncan made the most of his knowledge of the local trails to post the fastest combined time over the five timed stages to edge out Underberg athlete Andrew Houston and Matthew Green. Junior star Beanie Thies posted the top women’s time ahead of XCO specialist Bianca Haw.

Cam Morewood raced to a top five finish in the first leg of the enduro competition at the start of the Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge three-week window. Picture: James Cairns/Gameplan

“We battled it out in the heat,” said Duncan. “At one stage the temperature was 38C! I managed to catch a swim at the Karkloof Falls to cool down, which was a bonus.

“I am looking forward to being able to re-run it in two weeks’ time, as it was a really great weekend. It is pretty cool that the format allows us to give it another bash and hopefully improve our times,” he said.

Result of the day

Omar Wilson provided arguably the result of the day as the sub-junior raced to an impressive fifth place overall.

“He is a really talented up-and-coming rider and managed to bump Cam Morewood into second place in the junior competition,” said Duncan.

Many mountain biking and trail running enthusiasts took advantage of the warm weather and the first day of the three-week window of the festival format to ride the 60km, 40km and 20km MTB options or the 21km and 10km trail running routes, while adhering to lockdown protocols.

The Staples family (from left Juanita, Connor, Kaylee and Vaughn) were early visitors to the Karkloof Classic Challenge on the first day of the three-week festival window. Picture: Dave Macleod/Gameplan Media

The festival allows riders and runners to use any day of the 22-day window to register and use the trails, and then upload their GPS log of the ride or run to the ROAG website if they want to be included in the final results.

The elite MTB marathon stars will converge on the 60km Karkloof route on the final weekend of the festival window to decide the holders of titles for 2020, and the points towards the Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum.

The Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge
Starts: Saturday, October 24 and ends on Sunday, November 15.
Options: MTB Routes: 60km (R150), 40km (R120), 20km (R100) and Enduro (R250).
Trail Running: 10km (R100), 21km (R120).
Enter through www.roag.co.za or by electronic payment scanned at the Karkloof Club on the day.
Times uploaded at www.roag.co.za
More info can be found here

Copy – Supplied/Gameplan Media

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