Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge Media Release

 No: kc2003

23 Oct 2020

Embargo : None

Written by : Dave Macleod

Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge three week window opens with elite race

Karkloof - Perfect weather and a selection of new trails will greet the first intake of athletes for the innovative Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge when the three week window opens this weekend for trail runners and mountain bikers eager to enjoy the popular trail festival that was put on ice during the hard lockdown in May.

While the relaxed format created is to ensure the event is fully Covid-19 regulations compliant, the event has been honed to allow the elite men and women to compete for the 2020 titles, one of the most prestigious one day marathon titles contested on the national MTB calendar.

Elite racers have been contacted individually to make themselves available for one of two timed races over the upgraded 60km course, with the first being on the opening day of the festival window on Saturday morning.

With the Illovo Eston Challenge elite race on Sunday, many of the top men and women can be expected to pitch up to contest the Karkloof laurels on Saturday morning, taking on the iconic 60km marathon route that includes some brand new changes to the route to accommodate current harvesting of the Sappi plantations.

The 40km route specially laid out for the three week window shows a marked departure from the traditional 40km route and shares much of the 60km trials. The manageable 20km route will once again take riders into the uMngeni valley to see the Karkloof Falls, but with the trail reversed for the route used last year.

The organisers have added an intriguing twist to the elite race as they will be staging a second elite race on the closing weekend of the three week window, and will allow any elite riders keen to improve on their opening round performance to race again to try and better their time over the 60km layout.

There is a buzz of excitement in the competitive enduro community as the window includes two days of enduro competition where fans of the gravity discipline can time their runs down some of the fabled Karkloof enduro segments.

On Saturday the festival will include two enduro options, a 36 km leg taking in five timed descents for the serious enduro competitors, and an easier 24km enduro linking three timed sections.

For the rest of the recreational riders and runners, they will be able to arrive at the Karkloof Country Club start venue on a date and time that suits them to register for the event and ride or run the trails, and then, if desired, the athlete can upload the GPS log recording of their outing to the ROAG website.

“The feedback we are getting is that the window format is being well received and most runners and riders will wake up, look at the weather and then decide to come and do the Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge on that day,” said Andrew Nicholson, chairman of the Karkloof Country Club.

“That fits well with the drive to make sure the Karkloof trails are a viable and sustainable business model year-round,” he added.

“While this three week window format was necessitated by the Covid-19 lockdown, it serves our Shared Values philosophy really well in the way that it sustains our ongoing commitments to the local communities,” he added.

Nicholson reminded runners and riders planning to converge on the Karkloof Country Club on the weekend to be well prepared for the hot weather that is expected.

“These routes specially set out for the Challenge are not serviced and there won’t be any water points,” he said. “Athletes will have to make sure they take their water or juice requirements with them,” he added.

Entries for the 20km and 10km runs and the 60km, 40km and 20km MTB rides can be done through ROAG or directly at the club registration desk on the day, and all participants will be required to comply with the full Covid-19 protocols.

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

More info can be found at 


Photo Caption Photographer Click to download the hi-res pic

Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge Logo


The three week window for the Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge starts this weekend, giving MTB riders and trail runners a chance to enjoy the fabled Karkloof trails at a time and date that suits them.

Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

Trail runners will have 10km and 20km route options to choose from during the three week window of the Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge.

Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

Trail runners and mountain bikers heading for the Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge that starts this weekend can take on the easy 20km route that takes in the famous Karkloof Falls on the uMngeni River.

Dave Macleod/
Gameplan Media

The innovative Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge that replaces the annual event cancelled in May will offer a variety of routes for mountain bikers and trail runners to use over the next three weeks, including the iconic 20km route that skirts the Karkloof Falls.

Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

The Sappi Karkloof Classic Challenge window will include two enduro events on Saturday 24 October and Saturday 7 November.

Dave Macleod/
Gameplan Media

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