Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival Media Release

 No: kc2103

8 Sept 2021

Embargo : None

Written by : Dave Macleod


Sappi Karkloof Classic partnerships drive millions into local economy


Howick - As the mountain biking and trail running communities prepare for the Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival on 9 and 10 October, the evolution of the event underscores the value of sport-driven partnerships that drive value back into their communities.

What started twenty nine years ago as a once-off MTB marathon using trails cut through the Sappi plantations has grown over the years to a successful and sustainable year-round business model that drives millions of Rands in revenue into the club, local businesses and the tourism sector; directly creating and sustaining scores of jobs, while safeguarding the wide variety of environmental priorities.

Once the race had established itself as one of the premiere one day MTB Marathons on the national calendar, the partnership between Sappi as the sponsors and owners of the local forests and the Karkloof valley community evolved around a carefully managed programme aimed at viability and sustainability.

Since the merger of the Karkloof and Howick MTB clubs and the development of the facilities at the Marriott Karkloof Club base, projects like the Adventure Tourism Incubator and the investment in the Nguni Trails (Pty) Ltd that builds and maintains the 250km of trails in the valley, are fuelled by major events and year-round use of the club by recreational athletes.

“At Sappi we work towards unlocking the power of every tree, by-product, and resource across the value chain, and this includes the trails on our land,” said Alex Thiel, the CEO of Sappi Southern Africa. “We understand that a thriving world depends on economic wellbeing, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.”

Thiel, who is an avid mountain biker and trail runner himself, said that since the expansion of the annual Karkloof Classic event to include trail running in 2013, a carefully designed and managed plan was put in place to meet specific goals, which are aligned with Sappi’s focus on prioritised SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals of the UN) and with the responsible management of its plantations.

“This sponsorship forms part of the Sappi Trails Programme which has Event and Recreational Strategies. These two strategies are inter-related as the event invests in upgrading and creating new trails, thereby enhancing the routes which are open to the public throughout the year.

“The Karkloof trails have been voted best in the country on several occasions, and this makes Sappi particularly proud,” he added.

The attraction of the Karkloof trails lures riders and runners from every corner of the country and this can be measured by the direct impact this has on the local economy.

In a survey conducted by Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, the annual festival accounted for a R7 million injection into the local economy, while the year-round visits to the Karkloof trails resulted in a direct and indirect value of R234 million per annum.

“Over seven thousand people visit the Karkloof trails every year, who not only enable the Karkloof Club to continue investing in better trails and the continually improving clubhouse facilities, but they also support restaurants, pubs, farmers’ markets, art and crafts shops on the famed Midlands Meander,” explained Thiel.

“Sappi also adds value to the tourism sector by supporting other local attractions and making stunning natural sites like the Karkloof Falls accessible to the public, while also highlighting the important conservation efforts of the Karkloof Conservation Centre, where one can see Wattled Crane, Grey Crowned Crane and Blue Crane.

“The trails on our land are an integral part of our innovative approach to sustainable forestry, so besides providing access to our land for people to enjoy the benefits of how we balance the one third of our unplanted landholdings that are preserved for biodiversity, we also work with our trail partners to ensure that the trail networks result in broad based economic beneficiation supporting SDG8 -– which aims to provide decent work and economic growth in the communities surrounding our forests,” Thiel concluded.

The 2021 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival takes place at the Marriott Karkloof Country Club on Saturday 9 and 10 October.
More info can be found at https://www.karkloofclub.co.za/events/sappi-karkloof-classic-trail-festival-2021/
Entries are strictly limited at https://roag.org/events/event-info/3677/sappi-karkloof-classic 

Saturday 9 October
07h00 18 km Sappi Karkloof Classic trail run
07h30 9km Sappi Karkloof Classic trail run
08h00 45km Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB
09h00 20km Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB
13h00 Stihl Karkloof Enduro

Sunday 10 October
07h00 18 km Sappi Karkloof Classic trail run
07h30 9km Sappi Karkloof Classic trail run
08h00 45km Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB
09h00 20km Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB

ENDS

Photo Caption Photographer Click to download the hi-res pic

Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival Logo

 

“At Sappi we work towards unlocking the power of every tree, by-product, and resource across the value chain, and this includes the trails on our land,” said Alex Thiel, the CEO of Sappi Southern Africa.

Supplied/
Gameplan Media

“The Karkloof trails have been voted best in the country on several occasions, and this makes Sappi particularly proud,” said Alex Thiel, the CEO of Sappi Southern Africa.

Supplied/
Gameplan Media

The full time employment of the Nguni Trails trail builders enables them to build and maintain the 250km of trails in the Karkloof valley all year round.

Supplied/
Gameplan Media

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