This weekend’s Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival is primed and ready to welcome the country’s best marathon mountain bikers as they battle it out for the national SA Marathon Championship title. The focus of the weekend will be on Sunday’s 90km marathon that will decide the national men’s and women’s marathon champion and the trails and route are in prime condition for an exciting showdown.

Men’s defending national champion and team Specialized Toyota’s Matt Beers (main photograph) has jetted back from the United States to compete this weekend and will be out to deliver despite spending most of his time on a gravel bike recently. Beers has been in good form racing in America and will pose a serious threat for the top local riders who are coming off the back of an exciting KAP sani2c that saw the Imbuko Type{Dev} A Team of Marco Joubert and Wessel Botha claim the overall title.

Both riders will be lining up on the start line for this weekend’s national showpiece and they will also have team mate and defending Sappi Karkloof Classic champion Stuart Marias alongside them.

Marais, who teamed up with Franko van Zyl for sani2c, finally got the Karkloof monkey off his back last year when he won his home classic for the first time and it’s going to be a test for him to defend his title with such a stacked field to compete against.

The men’s field will include the best of the best as Insect Science teammates Keagan Bontekoning and Arno du Toit also in the mix. Bontekoning is still in the under 23 age category and will go in as favourite for the age group crown.

The evergreen PYGA Euro Steel pair of Gert Heyns and Philip Buys are also on the entry list and the pair can never be counted out and following a fourth in 2021 Heyns will be eager to get onto the podium.

Yolande de Villiers, photographed here on her way to winning the title in Paarl last year, will start as the women’s title favourite on Sunday. | Photo: Chris Hitchcock

From a women’s perspective, The Coopetto’s Yolande de Villiers will be out to defend her crown that she won in the Western Cape last year. De Villiers will have the trio of Amy McDougall, Sam Sanders and Theresa Ralph breathing down her neck throughout the entire 90km race if she wants to defend her crown.

Ralph and Sanders recently finished second in the women’s category at the KAP sani2c while McDougall will be hoping that she can better her third place finish at the national championship in 2021.

Young Jone van Eeden and Karlise Scheepers are the two Under 23 riders that will be fighting it out for the age group crown.

The junior riders under 18 will be racing in a shorter 60km route as they also battle it out for national titles and the chance to represent South Africa at the UCI MTB Marathon World Championships in Denmark later in the year.

The Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival 2022 will take place on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 May. More info can be found here.

Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival 2022

Sunday 29th May
07h00 90km MTB
08h00 60km MTB
08h45 40km MTB
09h30 20km MTB
09h50 9km Trail Run
10h00 10km MTB