No fewer than six of the race’s eight previous crowns have gone the way of Ugu District competitors and Smith is eager to continue the trend in 2016.

ccs-62657-0-45994800-1470845465.jpgKargo Pro Cycling Team's Hayley Smith will challenge for win number three at this Sunday's Sappi Scottburgh MTB Race on KZN's South Coast. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media
Victory in her own backyard this weekend would continue the party for Smith, already in a celebratory mood after Tuesday’s National Women’s Day also marked her 22nd birthday.

“The Sappi Scottburgh MTB Race is always a well organised event and one I enjoy so I’m really looking forward to this weekend’s race,” says Smith.

“I missed last year’s race as it fell on my 21st birthday so I’m really looking forward to getting back out there and taking part in an event that is not too far from home,” she adds.

While she has spent precious little time on her local trails in recent times, Smith is still well familiar with the terrain.

“I haven’t been able to ride on the South Coast that much recently as I’ve been focusing on a couple other events elsewhere in KZN but I finished second in 2011 and then won in 2013 and 2014 so the Scottburgh route is one I know well.”

Already boasting the unusual record of being the event’s only multiple winner, Smith’s local trail knowledge and the confidence she brings into the clash after strong recent showings sees the Margate athlete eager to challenge for a record third Scottburgh title this Sunday.

“My cousin, Darryn Purtell and I won the two-day Bitter-Sweet MTB Challenge stage race in Rocky Bay last year and the trails in Scottburgh will be quite similar to those I’m sure.

“This past weekend I finished fifth at the Eston Marathon – a really hard race with lots of very good ladies on the line – so I’m feeling good at the moment and am most definitely keen to go for my third win this weekend!

“The race in Scottburgh and then in Lynford will also be important events for me as I look to build towards the Hill2Hill in September.”

The 2016 Sappi Scottburgh MTB Race is the third and 'sea' leg of the inaugural South Coast MTB Series and takes place on Sunday 14 August. More information can be found at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Scottburgh-Mtb-Race/221420711386243.