SA’s richest series takes another semi-virtual step forward for MTB & trail running

Holla Trails

Photo: The beautiful Holla Trails offers some scenic trail running and mountain biking options. Credit: Holla Trails.

THE latest exciting iteration of competitive mountain biking and trail running will see riders and runners able to enjoy a three-weekend race window to take part in three concurrent events at three of KZN’s popular riding and trail running venues.

Following on from the success of the recent Sappi Scottburgh Virtual event at the end of August, the ten-event, year-long Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum will be putting on a Race the Trails mini-series of three events in September. The Husqvarna Classic, Holla Trails Classic and Giba Gorge Classic, all starting on September 19 and finishing on October 4, are the fourth, fifth and sixth races for riders and runners looking for points toward South Africa’s richest MTB and trail running series.

The semi-virtual nature of these three events means the runners and riders will have three weekends and the weekdays between to ride specified routes at three different venues. To compete in the Husqvarna event, runners and riders must compete over designated courses at Virginia Trails near Eston. The Holla Trails and Giba Gorge races will be held at the respective bike parks just outside Ballito and Durban respectively.

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The ten events making up the Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum was temporarily halted by Covid-19 in March, but series’ administrators ROAG have pushed hard to get things back on track, despite losing about five months of events. The result is the unique Race the Trails series within a series that will provide riders, runners, organisers, sponsors and administrators with three separate events which fully comply with the latest event regulations.

In a further effort to promote cycling in the province, ROAG and the event organisers have agreed to a “no racing day” on September 27 to help promote the KZN MTB Spring Queens Classic. This women’s only event organised at Shongweni Club by the KZN MTB commission will be the first event in KZN to be held in a traditional race format with head-to-head racing.

Riders and runners in the Race the Trails events thus have 15 days to take part in any or all of the three races. They can choose when it suits them to take part. Competitors are expected to follow the routes using GPX files saved to personal GPS units so, at each venue, riders will be competing on identical routes even if they may have slightly different conditions due to different start times.

Photo: Virginia Trails offers riders and runners some scenic vistas in Eston. Credit: Virginia Trails.

Competitors will submit GPS recordings for their finish times and a live online leaderboard for each distance at each venue will be maintained by ROAG

The fact riders and runners are all running and riding on the same trails, albeit on different days, means a formal competition can be held and the top riders in each category at each venue will be awarded prizes based on times as well as being rewarded with position points toward the overall title for the Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum.

“We are very excited about the semi-virtual concept of these Race the Trails events,” said ROAG Managing Director Nicole Talbot. “This portion of the Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum allows both elite and recreational mountain bikers and trail runners to take part in some sort of competitive action once again.

“I think there is going to be some fantastic rivalries playing out in the various age categories as well as for the three overall men’s and women’s races. Competitors have to use GPS units and we have to have access to their GPX files so it will be fair and we can verify performances.

“But riders and runners can give themselves an advantage by picking days with good conditions, so there are lots of tactics even if riders are not competing next to their rivals.

“I am also sure competitors will see a rival beating the time they have set, and then opting to return to the course to try and move up the live online leaderboard. It could turn out to be a lot of fun with some fascinating competition.”

The remaining four events in the Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum are scheduled to be held in October and November under various formats. Final details will be released as soon as they are finalised and government approvals received.

For more information and to enter any events visit www.roagseries.co.za or roag.org

Tim Whitfield

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