Captain of the Merchants Change a Life trail running team Kwanda Mhlope will be back with his characteristic smile at the Eston Illovo MTB Challenge trail run on Sunday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

Durban - Following a successful debut at the Illovo Eston MTB Challenge in 2017, the two trail running events will once again offer spectacular views and exciting trail for those that prefer to be on foot than two wheels this Sunday, 5 August, with two members of Martin Dreyer’s Merchants Change a Life Academy eyeing out the top step of the podium following their second and third in 2017.

Captain of the trail running/warrior racing Merchants Change a Life team Kwanda Mhlope is excited for his teams appearance at Eston and is hoping that one of them can claim the top step of the podium.

“The guys have been working really hard this year and have been taking part in a lot of the Warrior Black Ops Elite races,” Mhlope said. “It isn’t quite the same as training for trail running but the guys run a lot and work hard on that so we will hopefully do well again this weekend.

“It’s a great race and we really enjoyed the course because it was quite fast but also challenging at the same time.

“Mthobisi (Mzolo), who came second last year, and Sanele Maphumulo, who finished third, will be hoping to win the 18km race this year.”

Mzolo, who finished second behind Anele Dlamini, has been in solid form this year with his focus being largely on trail running. With a second at the Sappi Karkloof Classic 18km Trail Run, a third at the gruelling 3 Cranes and a first at the Table Mountain Trail Run in June, Mzolo is going to be a tough runner to beat.

“I feel like I am running well at the moment and am training really hard,” Mzolo said. “I just keep on focusing on finishing in the top three at all my races – that is my aim.

“I loved racing at Eston last year and want to do well again there this year and do better than my second place finish.

“It is a challenging course but it was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to racing again this year.”

The Merchants Change a Life team will be made up of seven runners at this year’s Illovo Eston MTB Challenge including Mzolo, Sanele Maphumulo, Mxolisi Zondi, Dumisani Shabalala, Mzamo Zondi, Thulani Skhakhane and Kwanda Mhlope.

Both trail runs take runners through the Tala Collection Private Game Reserve along single track as well as jeep track throughout the reserve with the finish at the Eston Farmers Club.

The event forms part of the popular Quattro ROAG Series and currently Nomore Mandivengerei is well in control with four wins in the four races that he has taken part in. 

To qualify for the ROAG Series title you need to take part in at least six of the nine events. 

The Mercury