Adventure Sport

New trend at Howick Highlander

2011-08-17 17:59
Gillian Graaf at the Howick Highlander (File)
Howick - As the finishing touches are added to the rapidly approaching Sappi Howick Highlander adventure weekend organisers of the popular sixteen year old event have decided to steer away from tradition slightly as they look to explore new ways to make participation more accessible to athletes of all abilities.

With the explosion of new recreational activities and the constant issue of value for money being raised organisers have decided to trim away some ‘additional extras’ often attached to MTB races and instead focus solely on creating an affordable, family orientated occasion.

With dramatically reduced entrances fees, a wide variety of distances in both disciplines, very manageable routes and, most notably, no timing of participants this year’s event encourages riders and trail runners to slow down and enjoy the sights and sounds of the spectacular uMgeni valley in a stress-free, uncompetitive environment.

“The Sappi Howick Highlander really is a community focused adventure weekend which is not a race at all and hence we have gone out of our way to ensure it is as affordable for all as possible and incorporates the entire family,” said event coordinator Alan Miller.

“There won’t be any timing of participants or prize money awarded to those who finish at the front, instead we will have lucky draw prizes which everyone will be entered in to and if entrants would like to know their time then we ask that they bring their own watch along with them,” he added.

Organisers are optimistic that their newly explored outlook will fill an obvious gap, especially in the mountain biking world, despite the event no longer being sanctioned by the KZN MTB commission.

“We’re not looking to try upset anyone or to put a spanner in the works, we simply feel that there are different markets within the mountain biking industry and we’re looking to cater for a slightly different market compared to the majority of other events,” explained Miller.

“We’re certainly not preventing anyone from taking part in our event nor will the standard of our event drop in any way whatsoever due to the price reduction, all we’re saying is that we’re doing things a little differently to the norm and we’ve got a slightly different focus to other races,” he added.

With organisers’ new mindset comes revamped routes for both the trail running and MTB events which organisers believe will add to the atmosphere of the event even further and aid dramatically in creating a more sociable environment for all.

“There are plenty of game viewing opportunities, meandering jeep tracks and of course the ever-popular section through Everdon Estate,” said Miller.

“There won’t be any road crossings and very few technical sections which together with the variety of distances hopefully will see everyone in the family able to find something which caters for their needs,” he added.

The event is run by the 1st Howick Cubs and Scouts group and they, along with WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa), are the principle beneficiaries of the event.

The Sappi Howick Highlander starts and finishes at Karkloof Farmer's Market, Howick and takes place on 27 and 28 August.


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