Marais, Van Eeden the riders to beat at Drak Gardens

The Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum heads into the third event of the year over the weekend as the Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens MTB & Trail Running event takes place in the foothills of the Drakensberg.

The trail runners will meander their way through the Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Golf and Spa Resort on Saturday with the 20km runners aiming for series points in the senior age categories, while the U18 age groups compete for points in the 7.5km. The 15km event offers a slightly shorter option for serious runners, but is not part of the Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum.

Sunday’s mountain bike events take riders a little further outside the resort grounds with competitors able to choose between a 40km route or a 20km course.

In the mountain biking, defending champion and current series leader Stuart Marais seems like to be the rider to beat. Marais this week received his R25 000 payout for winning the 2021/2022 series and currently holds a narrow lead in the race to defend his title.

According to the current log standings, Marais will face his stiffest challenge from up and coming star Unathi Nxumalo, but there is a strong field in the men’s race and Brendan van Heerden, Tyronne White, Matthew Scott, Connor Steytler and Justin Swanepoel are sure to be keen to pick up some points in what could be a fiercely contested race.

The women’s MTB race looks like it could be a relatively easy win for Christie van Eeden, the 2020 series champion who recently married male contender Brendan to form KZN’s mountain biking power couple.

In the trail running, defending series champion Sarah Gray will be looking to re-establish her dominance after she was twice beaten by Chantel Pennicott in the opening two events of the Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum at New Hanover and Karkloof.

Gray has been one of the most consistent winners across all the 40 different prize categories of the series and so it was unusual to see her beaten twice in a row, but her consistent year-round performances are sure to see her stay in contention to win yet another series title at the end of 2022.

In the men’s race the choice of potential winners is tough with series leader Linda Zondi not on the pre-entry list, but he may still enter late and would then be clear favourite to make it three wins in a row after he cruised home at Karkloof and New Hanover.

The latest series points can be found at https://www.roagseries.co.za/mtb-log-2022/ for the MTB log and https://www.roagseries.co.za/trail-log-2022/ for the trail running log.

Christie van Eeden. (PhotoL Instapix)
Marais, Van Eeden the riders to beat at Drak Gardens

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