After heavy rain fell throughout Friday, organisers were forced to shorten the route of the unique cycling experience in order to avoid some of the weather affected parts and preserve the race village area however even with the changes there simply was no hiding from the mud and slippery conditions out on course.

Despite being covered in mud from head to toe, a saturated Patrick Belton (Team Jeep) managed to overcome the difficult conditions best as he cautiously picked his way through various obstacles of the 12km route, with just a headlamp to give him any idea of what lay ahead on his tricky path, and crossed the line in a deserved first position with Klass Meintjes and Frederick Rossouw (Coffeeberry Momsen) in hot pursuit.

19 year old Patrick Belton (Team Jeep) heads through darkness in the slippery conditions en route to victory in the Peri Night Race, this weekend's Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival opener.

Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

“It was pretty tough out there this evening so it’s really great to have got the win,” said Belton. “It really was slippery so you had to keep you concentration up the whole time.

“It’s also a little extra special for me because the Karkloof Classic was the first mountain bike race I ever did six years ago so it’s great to come back here year after year and to win really is awesome.

Coffeeberry Momsen's Frederick Rossouw claimed third in the men's race of the Peri Night Race, this weekend's Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival opener.

Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

Even though the difficult conditions and cold temperatures saw the initial field reduced by two thirds the quality at the front end of the race was by no means diminished as a competitive group set out to try make the muddy limelight their own.

“Leeroy (Emslie) and I got away pretty early on but when I turned back halfway through the first race he was gone so I decided to just put my head down and go for it,” said Belton.

“With things being so wet and slippery I did take a bit of a tumble but fortunately nothing was damaged and I was able to just get back up and get going again pretty quickly. I guess that’s all just part of racing and fortunately it didn’t cost me too much tonight.

Klaas Meintjes makes his way through the mud and rain to claim second place in the Peri Night Race, this weekend's Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival opener.

Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

In the ladies race it was Kim Westbrook who stood head and shoulders above the rest of the women’s, albeit small, field in the muddy conditions, finishing over five minutes ahead of her nearest competitor.

With steady rain predicted for much of Saturday morning, those entered for the Stihl Karkloof Enduro will be watching the heavens with keen interest however it is almost certain the adrenalin seekers will be in for a significantly muddy affair when they get underway at lunchtime on day two.

“If it carries on raining like it is at the moment I don’t think things will be too bad because it’s more like riding through water than actual mud, but if thing start getting a bit sticky then it really will become slippery and that’s when it will become really tough,” said Friday evening’s 19 year old Team Jeep victor.

Day two of the 2013 Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival sees the Stihl Karkloof Enduro take place at 12h00 before thousands converge on the Karkloof Country Club on Sunday 21 April for the Sappi 60km Karkloof Classic, aQuellé 40km Half Marathon, aQuellé 20km Family Ride and aQuellé 10km Kids Ride. More info can also be found at www.karkloofmtb.co.za

Young and old braved the very wet and chilly conditions on Friday evening to compete in the Peri Night Race, this weekend's Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival opener.

Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

SUMMARY OF RESULTS - SAPPI KARKLOOF CLASSIC MTB FESTIVAL

PERI NIGHT RACE

Overall

1.Patrick Belton 37.04

2.Klaas Meintjes 38.06

3.Frederick Rossouw 38.25

4.Leeroy Emslie 38.51

5.Franscois Ferreira 39.12

Women

1.Kim Westbrook 53.11

2.Michelle Speirs 58.13

3.Danielle Botha 59.31