Lill and Hearder draw first blood at Karkloof with Night Race wins

Howick – Crisp yet favourable autumn conditions greeted the riders who took on the Peri Night Race at the 2015 Sappi Karkloof MTB Festival and it was the inform Darren Lill who was the strongest rider as he claimed the overall victory ahead of an impressive Jedson Tooms whilst it was the young Chriestie-Leigh Hearder who was the fastest woman over the 20km course on Friday night at the Karkloof Country Club.

Coming off a good block on racing in KwaZulu-Natal it was the Gauteng resident Lill who dominated the race from start to finish and he was happy with his performance even though he has been battling with a bit of illness over the past few days.

“I have been battling a chest infection for the last couple of days but to get the weekend off to a winning start is good,” a satisfied Darren Lill mentioned. “I have been riding a lot in KZN preparing for the Nedbank sani2c but the sickness set me back a bit however I felt a lot better than I thought I would tonight.”

Lilli is not too familiar with the concept of racing at night and the 2014 Sappi Karkloof 60km Marathon runner-up enjoyed the experience as he lead the race from the gun and never looked back as he beat Tooms comfortably in the end.

“Last year I did the 361 Challenge where you ride through the night but otherwise I don’t have any experience with riding at night and it was a really cool experience for me and I really enjoyed it tonight!

“It is a completely different feeling riding at night and the atmosphere around the race is completely different but it was something that I really enjoyed!

The next focus for Lill is the 60km Marathon on Sunday and following his second place in 2014 he hopes that he will be able to go one better however he has kept his cards close to his chest in terms of his challenge for the title.

“It would obviously be great to go one better than last year and get the win but it will be a tough race and we will just have to see what happens on the day!” a cautious Lill added.

The ladies race was dominated by the young Hearder who was also in dominant form as she powered away from the rest of the ladies to claim the win with 2014 champion Kim Westbrook coming in seven minutes behind the winner. Unlike her male counterpart Hearder is familiar with the concept of riding in the dark.

“I do a lot of riding in the dark because I can only train in the evenings so I ride at night a few times a week so I was quite comfortable out there,” she said.

Hearder was in fine form and the youngster was very happy with the way the race panned out and the smile on her face at the end of the race was a testament to how she felt after crossing the line first in the woman’s race.

“I am just really stoked about getting the win tonight!” she beamed. “It got a little bit bumpy out there but the track was so much fun and it is a good way for me to start the weekend!

“I am hoping for a podium in the 60km Marathon on Sunday but there are going to be so many strong riders there that I am going to have to ride really well but I am really looking forward to the challenge!” Hearder added.

The STIHL Enduro is the highlight of the action on Saturday and the action gets underway at 12pm.

Riders and spectators can follow news and developments via the event’s Facebook page (Karkloof Mountain Bike Club) or on Twitter (@KarkloofMTB) while more information can also be found at and entries can be submitted via


1.Darren Lill 01:01.16
2.Jedson Tooms 01:03.21
3.Leeroy Emslie 01:05.43
4.Klaas Meintjies 01:06.03
5.Frederick Rossouw 01:06.42

1.Chriestie-Liegh Hearder 01:16.29
2.Kim Westbrook 01:23.57
3.Kathryn Fourie 01:25.11
4.Renée Mitchell 01:28.22
5.Zurika Wright 01:33.32

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