Karkloof – Young, up-and-coming mountain biking and road racing star Tiffany Keep will be lining up for the 40km aQuellé Half Marathon at the Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival on Sunday, 27 May as the seventeen year old patiently builds up her racing experience.
Keep, who recently finished second in the aQuellé Tour Durban road race, has been taking the road cycling world by storm, but was quick to clarify where her priorities lie on the bicycle.
“Mountain biking is definitely my main discipline,” the Silverback Volvo athlete said. “This year there have been a lot more road races than MTB races so that is why I have been on the road a lot more.
“As much as I enjoy road racing, I am using it to gain experience in racing against older women.”
The Thomas More pupil could quite easily take on the top ladies in the 60km Sappi Marathon at the Karkloof Classic, but despite being tempted she felt there was no need to rush into the full marathon at her age.
“I am always up for a challenge and racing in the 60km marathon would have been a huge challenge – it is probably one of the toughest marathons in KZN.
“The 40km half marathon is also going to be tough and I think that it also includes a lot of the same features as the full marathon so it will be a good test.”
Keep’s pedigree speaks for itself when you look at her MTB record which includes both marathon and cross country victories around the country.
At the 2017 Illovo Eston MTB Challenge, one of the last major marathon events of the year in KZN, it was just the might of Bianca Haw that kept Keep from the top step of the podium against a field that included defending Sappi Karkloof champion Natalie Bergstrom.
Her record at Karkloof has been a stifled one due to her absence over the last few years, with sickness preventing her from getting to the start line.
Despite never having won a Karkloof title, Keep knows the trails well enough to understand where her strengths and weaknesses lie.
“The single track at Karkloof is incredible and that is an area where I am going to be the most comfortable.
“There are some tough climbs but I don’t really mind that as long as there is a nice downhill section on the other side,” she laughed. “I don’t really enjoy the district road sections, I would much rather be riding over rocks than on a road!”
Keep saw the jump from the 20km aQuellé Fun Ride to the 60km marathon as quite a serious leap so settled on the 40km half marathon, a race that she should get through without too much competition. Testing herself becomes the next challenge so an overall top 10 is the simple goal.
I like to race against the guys and see how I can do. They race a lot more aggressively and that is something that I enjoy and need to get used to so the guys ahead of me will become my targets at Karkloof.
“It gives me good motivation when I race so I always look forward to testing myself,” she added.
The 2018 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 www.karkloofmtb.co.za