Trails return to their roots for 25th Karkloof Classic

Howick – The KwaZulu-Natal Midlands gem that is the Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival will take its famous trails back to their roots as the event celebrates its 25th anniversary over the weekend of 26 and 27 May.

The Karkloof trails have become famous over the decades for being accessible and enjoyable for hard core mountain bikers as well as beginners. In recent years there has been a significant switch in the trails but trail builder Hylton Turvey is nostalgically taking riders back to the original route.

“Last year was the first year that we didn’t use the Lebanon section of the trail for the 60km marathon and we are going to use it again this year,” Turvey said.

“It’s such a popular part of the Karkloof trail network and we have changed things back this year quite significantly.

“We have also change the trail coming down from Lebanon and this year it is going to be a very unique and special bit of trail that will take riders through natural forest and grassland.”

Due to the nature of the Sappi plantations that form a crucial part of the trail network around the Karkloof Country Club, Turvey has had to change some sections of trail as plantation harvesting takes priority.

“There are sections that we have included this year that have been out of action for the past few editions of the race.

“Especially for the trail runners, there is a lot more trail involved because we were told that that was an area that we needed to improve on.”

The Bat out of Hell section of trail was another popular element that has been missing in recent years and Turvey has given this piece of track a make-over and a new name going into this year’s edition of the Sappi Karkloof Classic.

“A Canadian film maker by the name of Matt Hunter came to Karkloof and we took him through the Bat out of Hell section and we needed to get it back on the Karkloof route.

“We have made a few changes to it and we are calling it Sisonke, which means we are all together in isiXhosa.

“It’s named after my brother who was pretty influential in the reworking of the trail there and we are glad to have it back in the race,” Turvey added.

In 2017 Turvey felt that the aQuellé 40km half marathon might have taken a turn towards a more difficult outing and 2018 will see the event move back to its roots near the Karkloof Club.

Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

“We will set up the course for the 40km race around the club where we have set up some new trails as well as incorporating a stretch of track that we haven’t used since 2015.

“There are always a few changes that we make and we try and set it up where a few changes make quite a big difference.

“We are lucky to have such a huge expanse of trails and hope that this year will be another exciting year,” Turvey 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

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