“We have taken the view that our 20km race needs to be more challenging,” said course designer Gavin Ryan.
“If there twenty 20km races on the local calendar, at least eighteen of them are really easy. We want to provide a meaningful stepping stone for the intermediate rider aiming to race a 40km marathon in the near future and looking for a benchmark to see if they are ready,” said Ryan.
The shift in the route has been largely to accommodate the harvesting of the Sappi plantations that play host to much of the oldest MTB race on the KZN calendar, but Ryan says the change has been a very positive one.
“We don’t usually use track on the other side of the Currie’s Post Road,” he explained.
“We will be starting from the Howick High School as usual, but then taking the 20m riders into a fun new section called ‘Goblin’s Glen’,” said Ryan.
“Then the route heads into quite a technical section called ‘Harry’s’ where they will be going over quite a lot or rocks.
“The 20km race then goes up to a section called ‘Dam Fine View’ which overlooks Midmar Dam,” he added.
Ryan said he was confident the 20km riders would enjoy the new offering. “The trails are a lot more compacted, and I am sure they will go down well,” he concluded.
The Sappi Howick MTB Classic has always pitched itself as “Raw and Unplugged”, building on its legacy as the oldest race on the provincial MTB calendar.
The Sappi Howick MTB Classic takes place on Sunday 5 March and consists of a S0km Marathon, 20km Half-Marathon, and a 10km Fun Ride, with a five stage Enduro on Saturday 4 March. All entries are through ROAG.
More information can be found at www.howickmountainbiking.co.za