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Stuart Marais wins maiden Karkloof title at 10th attempt

After a decade of trying, Stuart Marais finally won the main event 45km marathon at the 2021 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival at the Karkloof Club on Sunday. Pictures: Gavin Ryan/Quick Pix/Gameplan Media

In a win for the locals, Howick’s own Stuart Marais won his maiden Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival 45km marathon title, while Rouxda Grobler took home the women’s honours on Sunday.

With overnight rain in the Karkloof conditions were slick, but the pace of the racing at the front was hot as defending champion Brendan van Eeden got off to a strong start.

Karkloof is one of the most prestigious one-day marathon races in the country and, with its rich history and long list of prominent winners, Team TypeDev NanoTime’s Marais was over the moon to have finally won the title.

Loads of memories

“I’ve been trying to win this race ever since I started racing competitively,” Marais said. “To finally win after 10 years of trying is awesome, especially after finishing in every other spot on the podium.

“I’ve finished from fourth to second, I’ve fractured my shoulder here, there’ve been a lot of memories and to finally get this win – I’m so stoked.”

Marais expected conditions to be more difficult given the overnight rain, however things didn’t pan out like that in a race that was full of gas from the gun.

Katherine Meyer sets off on her 21km trail run at the Karkloof Club on Sunday.

“When I lay in bed last night and heard the rain I thought we were going to have a serious day today.

“It wasn’t as muddy as I thought, but it was slick! And the pace was quick from the start with Brendan (Van Eeden) setting a fast tempo.

“I managed to get to the front on one of the first climbs and I got a slight gap,” said the race winner. “I also knew that with the trails as slick as they are, you were going to make time on the climbs and not on the down hills so I hit the climbs as hard as I could and just made sure I didn’t have any issues on the down hills.”

MTB and trail running gets physical again in the Kamberg

Van Eeden couldn’t defend his title from last year but finished just under a minute behind Marais in second, while Michael Foster rounded out the podium.

In the women’s race, Rouxda Grobler was the strongest rider on the day, as she dominated the field to win by two minutes in front of Hayley Smith, with Karyn Southgate third.

It was a dominant performance from Drive Train Academy’s Rouxda Grobler who won the women’s 45km marathon race at the Karkloof Classic Trail Festival at Karkloof Club on Sunday. Picture: Gavin Ryan/Quick Pix/Gameplan Media

Grobler grabbed the lead early one and didn’t look back, as she powered her way to victory.

“I didn’t have a very good start but I managed to get away on the first climb and stuck with the leaders in B Batch,” Grobler said.

Blazing a trail in ROAG series

“Unfortunately I lost touch with them when I had a slight problem but it was fine and I really enjoyed myself out there today. The single track was pretty slippery but it was a lot of fun!”

The highly competitive 20km half marathon produced some exciting racing, with sub junior Seth Aszalos taking the overall honours ahead of the first sub junior girl, Errin Mackridge, who finished in second place.

Joshua Johnson was third, while Madison Bateson was the second girl across the line with Jodi Mackinnon third.

Kai Broom (front) leads Raymond Radebe through the single track during the 9km trail run at the 2021 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival at Karkloof Club on Sunday.

Earlier in the morning the trail runners took on the famous Karkloof trails and Ayanda Ngcobo was the strongest runner in the 21km race, finishing just ahead of his Merchants Change a Life Academy team mate Thobani Nzuza.

Nomore Mandivengerei was the third fastest over the 21km, finishing 30 seconds behind second placed Nzuza.

Fastest woman runner

Nokhukhanya Memela was the fastest women runner when she coasted home in eighth place overall and nearly four minutes ahead of Sarah Gray, who finished in second, while Sarah Dancer rounded out the podium.

In the 9km trail run Bongani Hlongwane pipped Thulano Shakhane to first place, while Kai Broom was third. Jolene Els was the winner of the women’s 9km trail run ahead of Diane Hope and Hana Newlands.


45km marathon
1. Stuart Marais 1:53:23
2. Brendan van Eeden 1:54:05
3. Michael Foster 1:54:28
4. Matthew Scott 1:54:35
5. Tyronne White 1:58:30
6. Justin Swanepoel 2:00:04
7. Unathi Nxumalo 2:01:23
8. Andries Nigrini 2:02:34
9. Travis Walker 2:05:08
10. Jason Miller 2:05:29

1. Rouxda Grobler 2:21:28
2. Hayley Smith 2:23:29
3. Karyn Southgate 2:40:47
4. Emily van Heerden 2:41:38
5. Sanchia Malan 2:45:45

20km half marathon
1. Seth Aszalos 47:54
2. Errin Mackridge 48:31
3. Joshua Johnson 51:51
4. Mitchell Bryan Boik 52:55
5. Joshua Paul 53:02

1. Errin Mackridge 48:31
2. Madison Bateson 53:41
3. Jodi Mackinnon 53:44
4. Sophie Bircher 1:07:48
5. Debbie Smith 1:12:36

9km trail run
1. Bongani Hlongwane 37:39
2. Thulani Skhakhane 37:43
3. Kai Broom 38:52
4. Charli Mlotshwa 38:57
5. Khanyisani nzimande 43:46

1. Jolene Els 53:35
2. Diane Hope 55:11
3. Hana Newlands 57:17
4. Danielle McCormick 57:29
5. Khany Singh 58:17

21km trail run
1. Ayanda Ngcobo 1:29:51
2. Thobani Nzuza 1:29:57
3. Nomore Mandivengerei 1:30:24
4. Mthokozisi Xulu 1:36:24
5. Hlelani Radebe 1:41:00

1. Nokukhanya Memela 1:56:50
2. Sarah Gray 2:00:29
3. Sarah Dancer 2:08:54
4. Alison Wasserfall 2:13:06
5. Lauren Keenan 2:15:47

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