New Hills for SA’s biggest ultra marathon MTB race

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photo: Jon Ivins

Mountainbike: Hill 2 Hill


New date, new route! The 2017 Compendium Hill 2 Hill, KZN’s premier one-day mountain bike event, yesterday released their new-look route with a heavy emphasis on safety in the new course from Pietermaritzburg to Hillcrest.

The rumours have been circulating in the mountain biking community for the past few weeks as riders have been desperately trying to find the new route for the 100km race which takes place on its new date of Saturday April 15.

The big news is that the start will now be held in Alexandra Park, which means the 1 000 competitors in the 100km event — the biggest one-day ultra-marathon in the country — will skip the traditional first 11km of the race, including the forest section around World’s View (the venue for the start for the past 11 years) and the fast tar descent into Pietermaritzburg.

The 45km route from Cato Ridge to Hillcrest on Monday April 17, and the 15km route around Shongweni on Saturday April 15, are both similar to the traditional routes with only minor changes.

For the 100km, riders will now ride through Alexandra Park before joining the course at the old 12km mark. It is a bitter sweet decision for riders, because the first 11km were easy kilometres, but are the scene of some of the worst medical emergencies as well as difficult emergency access. Riders now have 11 easy kilometres taken out of the race, and this distance will be replaced by “real mountain biking” later in the course.

The decision is likely to make the route slightly more difficult, but “a lot more fun and a lot safer” say race organisers.

Riders will also cross fewer roads on the section out of Pietermaritzburg with course designer Nick Floros finding a series of underpasses and bridges to allow riders to exit the city limits more safely than in the past.

“There were three factors which led to our decision to change the start venue,” said race spokesman Andrew Taylor yesterday. “The first and most important was safety. We feel the new route is safer and access to the traditional first 11km for safety personnel was always a problem.

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Two riders are silhouetted against the sckyline in a previous Compendium Hill 2 Hill. The route for the 2017 event has been altered slightly for safety reasons. (Kelvin Trautmann )

“The second issue was that the race had become a bit too big for the World’s View start area and we felt it was impacting on the rider experience. Parking was difficult and so we have opted to move to Alexandra Park.

“And thirdly, traffic control through Pietermaritzburg was a problem and the traffic police asked us to look at other options. We have always had a fantastic relationship with the traffic authorities and so we have worked with them to find a solution that helps all parties.

“By removing the first 11km of the route we were faced with a decision: Do we stay with the distance of 89km, or do we add in extra distance and keep the traditional 100km race. We have opted for the latter which does mean the race may be a little more difficult, but we still feel it is an achievable challenge, which has always been our goal.”

The full route will be released next week on the Compendium Hill 2 Hill website. Organisers do not release the route earlier because in the past some riders try to get a sneak preview of the course and trespass on private land which is only open for race day.

Entries for the Compendium Hill 2 Hill close on Wednesday April 12 with race registration for the 100km on Friday April 14. The 100km and 15km take place on April 15 and the 45km and the newly introduced trail runs will be held on Monday April 17.

Late entries will be accepted at registration on Friday for all events.

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A rider meanders though farmlands on the way to Shongweni during a previous Compendium Hill 2 Hill. The route for the 2017 event has been altered slightly for safety reasons. (Kelvin Trautmann )

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