Witness Reporter
3 minute read
26 May 2022
06:26

MTB Marathon Champs: Yolande De Villiers to use pressure as motivation

Witness Reporter

The Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival is not only one of the best competitions for mountain bikers and trail runners, but will also serve as the South African MTB Marathon Champs this weekend.

The Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival is not only one of the best competitions for mountain bikers and trail runners, but will also serve as the South African MTB Marathon Champs this weekend.

Featuring plenty of top competitors, the two-day event will feature two trail runs on Saturday morning, nine kilometres and 21 km; and the next day sees a whole day of mountain biking, from 10 km to 85 km, and a fun trail run (nine kilometres).

This is while the enduro category has been moved to a stand-alone event on June 11 and 12, according to organisers at the Karkloof Country Club in the Howick area. They have assured the big field that has entered the mountain bike and trail run events this week that the signature Karkloof trails will be in top condition for the races on Saturday and Sunday.

Race-ready route

The Midlands has experienced less rainfall than the coastal areas recently, leaving the trail builders and event organisers enthusiastic that the trails will be at their best for the thousands of athletes that will converge on the Karkloof Country Club. No bridges or river crossings have been affected and this means all the mountain bike and trail run routes will be raced as originally planned.

The 85 km MTB ride on Sunday will also decide the national marathon championships titles for 2022, and the race is said to have attracted a stellar field to contest the men’s and women’s titles across various age groups.

The 85 km ride will include the debut of a brand-new section called Rockwood’s Angel, which will take the elite riders on a memorable five-kilometre descent from the top of the landmark Lebanon climb down to the nearby Rockwood Lodge.

While local rider Stuart Marais is the event’s reigning men’s champ, defending women’s national marathon jersey champion Yolande de Villiers has arrived in the Karkloof ahead of the defence of her national title, according toGameplan Media.

The veteran Team Coopetto racing star, from Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape, says she is eager to defend that honour against a strong women’s field.

De Villiers, whose successful career spanned a long dominance as a road rider before making her mark as a mountain biker, says she has raced in the Karkloof trails before, but that was some time ago. “… But I am approaching it as just another race on new trails,” she said.

She added that coming into the race as national champion and not being that familiar with the trails will add pressure, but she plans to channel that into a positive aspect of her race plan.

She said: 

“I think it is normal that there will be pressure on me as the defending national champion. I will just try to focus on my own race and use the pressure as motivation just to go as hard as I can.”

De Villiers’ rivals include Sam Sanders, Theresa Ralph, Amy McDougall and Hayley Smith. — WR.