The annual three day Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival takes place at Karkloof Country Club in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands from 9-11 May.

Photo credit: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

With the vast majority of the event’s six races traversing the hills and valleys of Sappi’s plantations in the Karkloof region, the organisers of the event – one of the largest and most popular mountain festivals in the country – are heavily reliant on the use of Sappi’s land and appreciative of the company’s endless support that has ballooned in recent years.

“While mountain biking has existed on Sappi property for over 20 years, Sappi recently decided to become more actively involved in the sport and has embarked on a strategic path to facilitate the development of safe and enjoyable trail networks across our plantations, which serve mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers and other non-motorised trail users,” explained Sappi Group Head: Corporate Affairs, Andre Oberholzer.

“Sappi assumed the official naming sponsor role for the Karkloof Classic MTB Festival last year as a logical expression of our increased engagement with, and commitment to, mountain biking, particularly in the Karkloof region.”

Without the support of one of the country’s key forestry role players, the popular three day affair would not have been able to establish the reputation that it has of offering some of the best trails in the country for participants to enjoy.

The relationship is however a mutually beneficial one as Sappi too enjoys tremendous value from their association with the event.

“In a world that has rightly become far more aware of society’s impact on our natural environment, it has become important for companies to help their stakeholders separate fact from fiction, misperceptions and myths,” said Oberholzer.

“Our role as a landowner, committed to the best global environmental management practices, is best showcased by inviting people to come and enjoy some time in our tree plantations and our conserved natural areas!

“We have therefore committed to supporting the trail custodians (clubs and bike parks) in their efforts to develop trails for competitive and recreational purposes by ensuring that internationally recognised best practices are also applied in this field and that trail networks are accessible to local communities and visitors alike; and also to support the development of competitive mountain biking in South Africa.

“In doing this we trust that our stakeholders will understand the fundamental commitment we make to being a responsible corporate citizen and that our products and our operations contribute to the building of a low carbon future,” he added.

The ever-present threat of fire is another issue Sappi believes that working together with off-road enthusiasts, can aid in minimising and controlling. “We believe that closer relationships with the mountain biking community will assist us in reducing risks related to fire and illegal activities as well.”

Both the organisers and sponsors of the 2014 Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival are looking forward to yet another memorable mountain biking weekend as the wide array of events offers something unique to each of the MTB community.

Riders and spectators can follow news and developments via the event’s Facebook page (Karkloof Mountain Bike Club) or on Twitter (@KarkloofMTB). More info can also be found at