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Sappi Mankele MTB Challenge


21 March 2015



We will be hosting the Sappi Mankele MTB Challenge, on the 21st March 2015.

Online Entries close on the 18th of March

Late Entries:
At Mankele Friday 15:00 - 19:00 & Saturday 6:00 - 7:45

60km R240 8:00
35km R190 8:20
22km R110 8:30
10km R90 8:40
2.5km R40 9:00

Race route descriptions.

2km – Fun fast flat track with only 22m climbing. Crosses over the Houtbschloop on a scaffold bridge into flowing single track, followed by BMX track finish.

10km (170m ascent) – Nice flat start on district road to get the legs warmed up. You’ll then veer off on to Msilezi farm with lovely undulating jeep track. You’ll refresh at water point on 6.2km, just after the Pecan orchard. Along the district road to the final disc burning descent& finish off on some flowing single track.

22km (380m ascent) – A gradual climb up the district road past Sudwala lodge & up into the pine forests. Just when you think you can’t climb any more there’s a water point waiting for you on 9.2km followed by undulating recovery time. Then bang into the mind blowing descent through African bushveld, with a roller coaster style bush tunnel. The 2nd water point is on 18km with a fast finish along district road, one more steep descent & fun single track at the end.

38km (900m ascent) – A rude awakening up the Old Sabie road will have you doubting your fitness levels. Once at the top of the sting you will be rewarded with some pine single track. Flowing jeep track, rocky climbs and views to talk about will take you to the next water point at the 12km mark. Then it’s down all the way into the Sudwala Valley. On 25km you’ll get your second breath at the water point. From here on it’s the reason why we ride. Steep descents, bushveld trails, bushtunnels, Pecan orchards & the final water point on 34km. You can crunch up the last bit of district road, free wheel down the Old Main road & fly through the single track to the finish.

62km (1400m ascent) – Past the camp site & BANG up the XC tar climb.  You’ll recover soon as it flattens out through Mikon chicken farm & then into Sappi forests, where you’ll find fast flat sections, smooth single track & a couple nasty climbs. Once you’re on the Bees single track you won’t be able to stop smiling - of the best single track (what your bike wants to ride).  You will be able recover past the mines and along the district road. 1st water point is atthe 19km mark. A few forest roads with mind blowing bush tunnels as your reward. You will then start climbing again & join up with the 38km race route.Some work to be done but the views are breath taking. Single tracks followed by a water point at the 35km mark. Then it’s down all the way into the Sudwala Valley. On 48km’s you will welcomed at the 3rd water point. From here on it’s the reason why we ride. Steep descents, bushveld trails, bush tunnels, Pecan orchards & the final water point on 57km. You can crunch up the last bit of district road, free wheel down the Old Main road & fly through the single track to the finish.

Queries: 082 338 9532 Mark

Accommodation: ride@mankele.co.za / 078 801 0453

Sappi makes major commitment to
mountain biking in Mpumalanga

Sappi confirmed that they are increasing their support for mountain bike racing which uses Sappi land. To this end Sappi have agreed to take up the naming rights of the popular Mankele Mountain Bike Challenge, which will now be called the Sappi Mankele Mountain Bike Challenge. “Sappi’s plantations not only provide a critical renewable resource to help grow South Africa’s economy, but together with our conservation areas our land provides a fantastic resource for planned recreational activities. We therefore support non-motorised activities such as mountain biking and bird watching on Sappi land, also as part of our commitment to promoting a healthy life style and nurturing an appreciation for nature and the sustainable use of renewable resources” says Regional Forestry Manager, Duane Roothman.

The Sappi Mankele MTB Challenge will be taking place on Saturday, 02 April 2011 on Sappi’s land near the Sudwala Caves, about 30km from Nelspruit. The event offers a number of races, which includes a 2.4km, 12km, 35km and a 65km race.

Over the years the organising body, Mankele Mountain Biking, has developed unique trails running through Sappi’s bush tunnels and endless single tracks, which enables riders to have the best possible mountain biking experience. Sappi’s property also boasts one of the longest bush tunnels in the country, which makes for an exhilarating ride.  The route will also take riders through beautiful grasslands where, if lucky, the riders may spot red data species such as the Oribi buck and Humilis cycads. 

Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing sports in South Africa and the Sappi Mankele MTB Challenge is fast becoming a national event with riders from across the country participating. The race has seen a 30% growth rate increase per year since the event first started in 2008, and the Mankele trails are rated amongst the best mountain biking trails in South Africa by many professional riders.

  Sappi MTB

Route Profiles (click on a profile to enlarge)



To tackle a mountain bike marathon is not for the faint-hearted or unprepared. It takes great inspiration to train for and compete in such a race. Sappi has recognised that this fits in with their own ethos “inspired by life”, and are once again the title sponsor of the 2013 Sappi Mankele Mountain Bike Challenge.

This is the third consecutive year that Sappi has naming rights for the event.
More than 600 mountain bikers will again converge on Mankele, located in the Sudwala district close to Nelspruit, on the weekend of 23 March to tackle the awesome single track, bush tunnels and MTB trails on Sappi’s Mooifontein, Pine Valley and Rhemay plantations.

Mankele’s trails have been described by the late Olympian, Burry Stander, as “superb” and the race was rated the best mountain bike park in South Africa by Cycling South Africa in October 2012. 
The 2013 Sappi Mankele Mountain Bike Challenge will see riders tackling the awesome 2010 course, described by those who are regulars at this annual race as their favourite. Mankele’s Mark Meyer says, “The climb is a real dog but the single track is amazing.” The ever-popular 4-in-one event includes a 65km marathon, a challenging 35km marathon, a twist-filled 12km fun ride and a 2.4km kiddies’ race.

 “At Sappi we are inspired by your love of the outdoors, and your desire to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. There are a lot of really cool places on Sappi’s land, including some of the best mountain biking terrain available in South Africa” says Sappi Forests Regional Manager, Duane Roothman.

Mankele is supported by Cycling South Africa and are well respected nationally as one of the leading Mountain biking destinations in South Africa. They have developed various trails running through Sappi land. These include one of the longest bush tunnels in South Africa and almost-endless single track. The routes bring riders up close with nature, traversing grasslands and other natural areas where riders can spot oribi and other local species that inhabit the land.

Roothman says it is important for Sappi to plough back into the community that lives in the vicinity of the company’s plantations.
“Ten per cent of all earnings from the event will go to the local Elandshoek Elandshoek community, to put towards the building of their church which was started last year. These beneficiaries neighbour Sappi plantations,” says Roothman.

Local service organisations will join hands with the organisers in a fund-raiser for the Nelspruit Community Forum, a non-profit organisation that Sappi supports as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programme.

There will be lots to eat and drink at the NG Kerk Alkmaar’s food stall. Other entertainment includes jumping castles and games to keep children entertained. Prizes include a weekend at Sappi’s White Elephant self-catering guest accommodation unit at the Sappi Twello Plantation near Barberton, for the next MTN Barberton Classic in January 2014.

One lucky rider will win themselves a brand new mountain bike valued at R10,000 – sponsored by Valencia Wholesalers. Valencia will also be setting up a bike shop at the event, to undertake bike repairs and maintenance.

If, like Sappi, you are inspired by life and have the apetite for one of the most challenging yet beautiful mountain bike routes in South Africa, go to www.entrytime.co.za and enter the Sappi Mountain Bike Challenge 2013.

For more information:

Race information: 082 338 9532/3
Accommodation: 078 801 0453

Sappi Southern Africa:

  • Sappi Southern Africa, an integrated forest products company, meets the needs of local and international customers through a wide range of products from three divisions:
    • Dissolving wood pulp, is sold to converters for use in such products as fashion clothing, mobile phone screens, cellophane wrap, pharmaceutical, beauty and household products. Sappi is a leading manufacturer of dissolving wood pulp.
    • The Paper and Paper Packaging division provides products including, paper pulp, newsprint, coated and uncoated fine papers, office and business papers, security and speciality papers, tissue wadding, containerboard (used to manufacture cardboard boxes) and packaging papers (for the cement, pet food, agriculture and FMCG industries). Leading local brands includes Typek, Triple Green, Masuga, Reviva and Enigma print papers; Sentinel security paper; Stackraft, Kraftpride and Superflute packaging papers.
    • Sappi Forests supplies 70 per cent of the woodfibre needs of Sappi Southern Africa from 380 000 hectares of both our own and managed commercial plantations; currently with more than 35 million tons of standing timber. All our own-grown wood is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and ISO 9000 certified. A further 150 000 hectares of land is managed for biodiversity conservation, including wetlands, riparian zones and indigenous forests. Sappi’s land is available (with certain provisos) to the public for non-motorised recreational use eg mountain biking and trail running.
Sappi Southern Africa is a division of Sappi Limited (JSE: SAP; NYSE:SPP); a global company headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa with over 14 000 employees, and manufacturing operations on three continents in seven countries and customers in over 100 countries around the world. Learn more about Sappi at www.sappi.com.
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