The two-day event comprises of a number of different events catering to varying riding abilities with Saturday playing host to the budding discipline of MTB Enduro whilst Sunday hosts the more traditional 40km Marathon, 20km Half Marathon and the hit 10km Fun Ride.

Young Jedson Toomes will be on the start line looking to better his fourth place overall in 2016 at the 2017 Sappi Howick MTB Classic happening this weekend from 4-5 March. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

The ever-growing Enduro discipline will take place on the Saturday along a new, revamped course between the Curry’s Post Road and the N3 freeway due to the harvesting of plantations, however riders will be pleased to know that organisers have unearthed trails that were covered in tree-fall debris.

Last year was the first year that the Sappi Howick MTB Classic hosted the Enduro and the event was well received by all that took part and course designer Gavin Ryan hopes that 2017 will be no different as the discipline continues to evolve and attract new riders.

The business end of the weekend’s action comes on Sunday with the 20km ride as well as the exciting 40km Marathon which has a history of attracting some of the province’s top riders on the day.

The 2016 edition of the race was won by 2016 Olympian Alan Hatherly; however since he relocated to the Western Cape recently he has been lost to the local KZN racing circuit.

The 31st edition of the Howick MTB Classic will provide riders of varying abilities a chance to test themselves on some of the oldest mountain bike track in the province. The track is also a playground for many riders on a weekly basis proving its worth amongst the best in the region.

The Sappi Plantations provide the perfect backdrop for some exciting riding at the 2017 Sappi Howick MTB Classic happening this weekend from 4-5 March. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

As is the case with the Enduro course, the 20km route has also received a large revamp with the emphasis on up-skilling riders as they hopefully graduate to the more physically and technically demanding 40km Marathon.

The 20km ride will incorporate a couple brand new sections of riding including a section overlooking Midmar Dam, providing riders will all they need from a Sunday morning’s racing.

The flagship 40km Marathon is set to produce another exciting race with the elite entries trickling in slowly with 2016’s fourth place finisher Jedson Toomes currently touted as a potential winner of the men’s crown.

In an eleventh hour entry, Bianca Haw has popped her name into the hat for the Howick MTB Classic. The young Red Bull rider has been working hard in the past few months as she hoped to return to her best form with a big season ahead of her.

One girl who will provide Haw with a tough tussle is youngster Tiffany Keep. Keep, who is an athlete on the successful Elite Athlete Development Programme based out of the Prime Human Performance Institute, has been in fine form both on the mountain bike and the road bike over a number of months.

It will be a tough tussle between the two and the men’s race will in all likelihood take shape on the morning of Sunday’s race.

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