With two weeks to go before the first ever UCI MTB Marathon Series race to be held in South Africa, taking place on 25th to 26th February 2012, preparations are storming ahead!

The recent heavy rains that have hit Mpumalanga have drained away leaving some challenges to the course designer Dennis Lawrie, but living in the Sabie mountains Dennis is superbly adept at reconfiguring and redesigning courses.

Mother nature has been known to throw a few curve balls over the years but knowing the mountains like the back of his hand, Dennis has always triumphed and delivered a challenging yet enjoyable course!

Over 3000 riders will descend upon the small Lowveld town to experience South Africa’s “Mecca” of mountain biking over the two days, and with online entries up 40% compared to the same time last year, competitors can prepare for a BIG event!

International interest is peaking with enquiries from Germany, France and Malaysia amongst others so a strong international field is expected. Add to the mix the best that South Africa has to offer and you can be sure that sparks will fly. Germany’s Karl Platt became the first non-African to win the race at the 2011 MTN Sabie Classic and he’ll be sure to want to retain that honour in two week’s time.

The organisers are pleased to welcome STIHL tools on board as a co-sponsor to compliment the continued support from MTN and Nissan.

As usual for ’Sabie, the race offers something for everyone with races for the little kids, novices, weekend warriors and the Pro’s. Saturday’s main draw card and UCI category race will be the 113km ultra marathon, which presents 3150m vertical climbing, as well as the customary and ever popular 75km marathon distance with 2100m of climbing.

Sunday sees the participation of the 40km half marathon event with 1050m climbing, all in all offering great outdoor action over 2 days. For 12 years the Sabie Classic has become the benchmark of enduro mountain bike racing by which all others are judged.

Race director Brett Coates says: “The course is perfect, and the route maps and track logs have all been uploaded on the Advendurance website. Dennis has made all the necessary adjustments and as riders can expect, there will be loads of enjoyable singletrack trails.

“Participants will be riding past boulders the size of VW beetles caused by a landslide along the route, and these boulders are in the road, so cyclists will have to navigate past these giant obstacles!”

Although only the first marathon event of the 2012 UCI MTB Marathon Series, the MTN National Sabie Marathon forms round number three of the local MTN National MTB Marathon Series driven by Nissan.

The MTN National Barberton ultra marathon at the end of Januray produced a real ‘Gauntlet throw-down’ from Jacques Rossouw (Fedgroup ITEC Connect) and there is sure to be a concerted effort from the likes of Kevin Evans (Nedbank 360Life) and local star Max Knox (Ghost Decca) to not let him escape again. The second MTN National MTB Series driven by Nissan takes place in Tulbagh (Western Cape) next weekend – 18th February.

Entries for the first round of the UCI MTN Sabie #3 driven by Nissan are still open at http://www.advendurance.com/nationalmtbseries/sabie. The main beneficiaries of the race include the Msiba Mbane orphanage in Sabie, the Lions Club as well as various local service providers. The Lowveld Chaingang Cycle Club hosts the race with the assistance of Advendurance.

Entries are via the Advendurance website and further details can be obtained from Race Director Brett Coates on 082 774 5821 or brettc@lantic.net.