Marais to face stiff competition at Karkloof

Howick – 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 85km marathon hosts the 2022 SA Marathon Championships on Sunday, 29 May.

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 85km route will be a true test for the national jersey hopefuls.

For the Imbuko {TypeDev} rider being able to get back to the more traditional Karkloof is an exciting prospect and also to face the country’s best marathon riders in his own back yard 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.”

Marais recently teamed up with team mate Franko van Zyl to finish fifth at the recent KAP sani2c and the three days in the saddle has been a good preparation for Marais going into the national showdown.

“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.”

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 am the oldest in the team by a long way so we will have a look at what happens on the day.”

Going into the showdown Marais is looking forward to what the course at Karkloof will throw at them and expects that it will a good national championship decider.

“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 expectantly.

The Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival 2022 will take place on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 May. More info can be found at https://roag.org/events/event-info/3864/ and entries are at https://roag.org/enter/event/3864

Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival 2022
Schedule of events:
Saturday 28th May
07h30 21km Trail Run
08h00 9km Trail Run

Sunday 29th May
07h00 85km MTB
08h00 60km MTB
08h45 40km MTB
09h30 20km MTB
09h50 9km Trail Run
10h00 10km MTB

Marais to face stiff competition at Karkloof

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