The ever-popular Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge & Trail Run in KwaZulu-Natal will have a new look in 2019, including a new race venue and some revamped routes.
This year’s event on April 28 will be based at the Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa which will provide an idyllic and spectator-friendly venue for supporters, while also ensuring a more relaxed setting for riders and runners after they have completed their events.
The route for the 60km Husqvarna Classic MTB X-treme event, which targets the province’s elite and experienced mountain bikers, will be similar to the 2018 event, although there are a few tweaks to update and improve the course with some extra single track.
The popular 40km Safire MTB Classic will have the most changes of all the mountain bike rides with the course shortened back to 40km while extra single track has been added. The highest climb – at just under 1000m – is early on in the race at 13.5km. The return loop has a gentler gradient.
The trail runners will have the biggest changes with new routes starting at the Gwahumbe Game Lodge on top of the plateau before finishing at a beautiful waterfall setting in the valley, where shuttles will transport runners back to the start/finish area and prizegiving.
“The event has now outgrown the Mid Illovo Club, which hosted the Husqvarna Classic for 10 years,” said race organiser Shanon MacKenzie this week. “We made the decision to move the start and finish venue to Gwahumbe Game Lodge that lends itself to an ideal area for relaxation and chilling after the competitors have completed their runs and rides.
“More people will be able to enjoy the vibe and atmosphere that will make for a wonderful family atmosphere.
“We have also changed the routes a little. With changes over the years the 40km had become 46km and some of the return climbs were tough for the riders we were attracting, so we got rid of some of the smaller ascents on the return route and reduced the distance. We have kept most of the single track so it will certainly be a more enjoyable ride.”
The trail runs will have new routes starting at Gwahumbe and dropping down into the valley which should make for some fun, fast running in spectacular scenery.
“The Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge & Trail Run was the first ever ROAG event all those years ago. This year will be our 11th event and we have built tremendous credibility within the mountain biking community who know that we host a superb event. The routes are always well thought out and the single track is manicured, well prepared and marked,” MacKenzie added.
Riders and runners have a choice of six events at the Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge & Trail Run. There are two trail runs, the 16km Farmer’s Agri-Care Trail Run for the fit and experienced runners and the 8km Gwahumbe Trail Run for those who are looking for something a little less strenuous. Mountain bikers have four events ranging from the 60km Husqvarna Classic MTB X-treme, which is also part of the Quattro ROAG Series for the elite riders. The 40km Safire MTB is aimed at riders looking to test themselves while the 18km Gwahumbe Family Experience is a family-orientated ride for newbies, those still getting confidence on a mountain bike or trying to get fit. The 10km Fun Ride targets the younger set and U12 riders can enter this event for free.
There are 800 Uzwelo shopper bags and 600 Quick Dry, Microfibre towels for the first entrants.
Each year, the Mid-Illovo community benefits from hosting the Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge & Trail Run, as proceeds from the event go towards community upliftment.Â
Every entrant also has the opportunity to give back and help a child in this Midlands community by purchasing an Uzwelo School Bag, with a built-in raincoat poncho, for R150.