Rukadza, Calitz retain AfricanX title

Aj Calitz and Bernard Rukadza winning ProNutro AfricanX

 

 

 

This year’s ProNutro AfricanX was a tough race made especially grueling by high temperatures, with 41 competitors failing to complete the three stages.

From Friday 13 March to Sunday 15 March, the teams raced through 90km of varied terrain in Grabouw. Team KWAY, AJ Calitz and Bernard Rukadza emerged as winners for the second time in 6 hours 46 minutes. Thabang Madiba and Eric Ngubane of Salomon Men arrived in second place only five minutes down, while Team 32Gi Gauteng with Edwin Sesipi and Johardt Van Heerden rounded the podium in 7 hours 7 minutes.

Team CW-X Ultraspire were the first mixed team over the line, Nic De Beer and Yolande Maclean taking the gold in 7 hours 40 minutes.

The aptly named Salomon Blondies, Landie Greyling and Megan Mackenzie, were the winning women’s team in 8 hours 6 minutes.

Yolande Maclean and Nic De Beer at the ProNutro AfricanX race village

Yolande Maclean and Nic De Beer of team CW-X Ultraspire have nervous smiles before a tough day.

AJ Calitz, SA’s Ultra Trail Champion, rates, “The 2015 AfricanX was super tough, and very quick up front. I’m very glad I did my speed and power sessions in preparation!” “It is a special event where all trail runners unite in competition which is filled with so much vibe, passion and drama,” enthused Nic De Beer. His team mate, Yolande Maclean, was very impressed with her first three-day trail race: “We ran in different areas each day which was great. There was a bit of everything: hills and mountains, singletrack, jeeptrack, technical and rocky parts, overgrown parts, and cliffs.”

Thabang and Eric only met each other at the airport before the race. “We struggled to click on day one but as the days went on we were able to communicate easily,” said Thabang.

Day one

AJ “The first day was very flat and fast.”

Yolande “On day one I was learning how to run with a hydration pack for the first time. On part of the course the filming helicopter hovered low near us. All I felt is the helicopter’s wind and the sound of it felt as if they were right on top of us. I got goosebumps all over.”

Landie “As we were running down the home straight, Altus Schreuder, the commentator, anxiously announced that the second ladies team was right behind us, and that it was going to be a sprint for the stage win! Meg and I ran our hearts out, only to realize that Altus had it all wrong and that it was in fact a mixed team behind us. Lots of chuckles at the finish line!

Day two

landiegreyling.com Salomon Blondies cross AfricanX day two finish line

landiegreyling.com Salomon Blondies cross AfricanX day two finish line. photo Tobias Ginsberg

Thabang “This stage was my favourite because I knew that everyone was tired and I was getting stronger.”

Landie “Gasping my way up the oxwagon tracks on the Gantou Pass was quite intense, as it was here that we realised that our game plan of “giving it all we got” would have to change to “keep calm, one step at a time, survive!” At a particularly bad spot about 4km from the finish I was forced to stop. Meg and I looked at each other, held hands and made it across the finish line to take our second stage win. What a significant moment!

AJ “Luckily this stage made up for the ease and pace of day one – the routes on day two were really amazing! Such beautiful views and singletrack.”

Megan “This was a tough stage due to the heat. It’s the day of climbing and long hard sections on tired legs, added to this we had the midday sun and still, hot air to run through.

Day three

Yolande “Day three stood out because it was fast and technical. We had to push hard to stay in the lead.”

AJ “The singletrack on day three was probably the nicest part of the whole race – pity we were going all out there…”

Megan “I absolutely loved every second of the race. Hitting the tape on day three is a special memory.”

Team love

AJ Calitz and Bernard Rukadza with ProNutro AfricanX trophy

AJ Calitz and Bernard Rukadza very pleased with their trophy.

KWAY

AJ “Running with Bernie is one of my favourite things in running – he is such an awesome mate and runner!”

Salomon Men

Thabang “Eric Ngubane is one of the athletes that will take you out of your comfort zone, I wish I had a training partner like him.”

CW-X Ultraspire

Nic “Yolande was simply incredible. She has speed and endurance and did not have one single wobble during the entire event. She is mentally extremely strong. It was such a pleasure running with her.”

Yolande “Nic as a brilliant running partner. We both wanted it as much as the other. He is knowledgeable, humble, chilled, and enjoys being out there in the mountains. I think I had the best partner for those three days.”

Salomon Blondies

Megan “Landie is an incredibly strong runner with a resilient mind and a wonderfully competitive spirit. We laughed at the photos after every day because we are mirroring each other’s stride in most of them. I have total respect for her as a runner and a friend. We’re looking forward to teaming up in the future.”

Landie “Megan was an unbelievable partner, so positive and considerate. She really took the phrase: “Teamwork makes the dream work” to a whole new level. Especially on stage two and three when I was feeling ill.”

Memories

Thabang “A funny memory of the race was when I was shouting at our opponents because they didn’t want to take the lead. During the race it was me and Eric leading most of the time, and when we dropped the pace they dropped too, when we increase they increase too. At the end we are brothers again: we forget all the fights we had during the race.”

Megan “The day before the race, Landie and I went for a little warmup run on the singletrack through the pine forest. I remember saying to her that no matter what happens in the actual race, we’re still running right now in this beautiful place, with each other, smiling and doing what we love doing best!

Nic “My highlight was seeing someone like Yolande coming out of her comfort zone, attempting something she has never done before and excelling.”

ProNutro AfricanX results

For full results visit stillwatersports.com

Women’s Results

Team Name Runner1 Runner2

Time

1

Salomon Blondies Meg Mackenzie Landie Greyling

8:06:26

2

Team Pronutro Timefreight Nicolette Griffioen Carla Van Huyssteen

8:41:56

3

Ganbei Inge Visser Liesbeth van der merwe

9:29:34

4

Team HD Alex Adie Jane Swarbreck

9:41:44

5

Turbo Thunderbirds Kelly McKenzie Sam Reilly

9:55:19

Men’s Results

Team Name Runner1 Runner2

Time

1

KWAY AJ CALITZ Bernard Rukadza

6:46:18

2

Salomon Men Eric Ngubane Thabang Madiba

6:51:11

3

32gi Gauteng men’s team Edwin Sesipi Johardt Van Heerden

7:07:30

4

Drip and bungy outlaws Rohan Kennedy Dawid Visser

7:19:35

5

Suunto Salomon Andrew Erasmus Christiaan Greyling

7:27:51

Mixed Teams Results

 

Team Name Runner1 Runner2

Time

1

CW-X Ultraspire Nic De Beer Yolande Maclean

7:40:46

2

Team Enduro Hub Kerry-Ann Marshall Morne Van Greunen

7:51:44

3

Twinning Natia van Heerden Antoine van Heerden

8:20:39

4

Aan-Die-Brand Frederik Lotter Naomi Brand

8:26:32

5

Team name? Brett Nattrass Ronel Nattrass

8:49:36

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