Gameplan Media
3 minute read
21 May 2022
06:00

Stuart Marais looks forward to the Sappi Karkloof Trail Festival

Gameplan Media

After finally winning his home classic in 2021, Howick local Stuart Marais will face stiff opposition at the 2022 Sappi Karkloof Trail Festival as the 85 km marathon hosts the 2022 SA Marathon Championships next Sunday, May 29.

After finally winning his home classic in 2021, Howick local Stuart Marais will face stiff opposition at the 2022 Sappi Karkloof Trail Festival as the 85 km marathon hosts the 2022 SA Marathon Championships next Sunday, May 29.

Marais stormed to victory in 2021 in a shortened version of the marathon event due to the Covid-19 pandemic; however, 2022 will see the return of the signature marathon and this year the 85 km route will be a true test for the national jersey hopefuls.

For the ImbukoDev rider being able to get back to the more traditional Karkloof is an exciting prospect and to face the country’s best marathon riders in his own backyard is another aspect of the race he is looking forward to. “Anybody and everybody will be at Karkloof this year and it’s going to be one helluva race,” Marais said.

“It is going to give me flashbacks to the years when riders from around the country would make the trip to Karkloof every year and the field was stacked with the best riders in South Africa.

“To have that feeling back and to see the best riders in the country taking on the routes that I call home is going to be brilliant,” he said.

Marais recently joined teammate Franko van Zyl to finish fifth at the recent KAP sani2c and the three days in the saddle were good preparation for Marais going into the national showdown.

ALSO READ | Home rider Marais ‘stoked’ with first Karkloof Classic triumph

“I hadn’t done sani2c since 2019 so it was good to be back and Franko and I did nicely to end in the top five. The body was feeling a bit tender after all those days of racing but I’m feeling good again and will race in the KZN XCO race this weekend before Karkloof next weekend.

“I think a cross country race this weekend will be good from an intensity point of view, so that should be good preparation for me,” he said.

Excitingly for Marais, he will have three other team members from the Imbuko {TypeDev} team at this year’s national championship, which gives him and his teammates the chance to work together.

“It is an individual sport and everyone wants to win, but as a team we will see if we can work together if need be. If I’m not feeling great I will gladly help either Marco [Joubert], Wessel [Botha] or Franko wherever they might need.

“I feel that I have got a ‘never give up’ attitude and that’s something that I am going to need next weekend because it’s going to be a very hard race.”
Rider Stuart Marais

“I am the oldest in the team by a long way so we will have a look at what happens on the day,” he added. Going into the showdown, Marais is looking forward to what the course at Karkloof will throw at them.

“In the past, some of the courses haven’t been about who was the strongest rider on the day with a lot of climbs on single track, but here we are going to see a brutal but fair course.

“It’s going to be a serious test but that’s what you want from your national championship and I am looking forward to that.

“I feel that I have got a ‘never give up’ attitude and that’s something that I am going to need next weekend because it’s going to be a very hard race,” he added.