Twelve months in the making, Edwin Sesipi and Givemore Mudzinganyama of Team ASICS Boys Gauteng finally secured the sought after men’s team champion title at the 2017 Cell C AfricanX Trailrun presented by ASICS on Sunday, 19 March 2017.
The final stage was met with mixed emotions. Excited to finish, but sad to close off the journey, teams of two were bussed to the picturesque Wildekrans Wine Estate for the start of Stage Three. All that stood between teams and the finish line at the majestic Houw Hoek Inn was 23km of sensational trail running.
“I enjoyed the stage,” says a very happy Sesipi. “The best part was after the first 12km when the climbs started. We stuck with the leading men’s group from the start. After the 12km mark Givemore and I took the lead and kept it from there. Stage Three is my favourite AfricanX stage. Today’s strategy was just to relax. We’ve been waiting for this victory since the 2016 event. It’s a dream come true.”
According to Mudzinganyama, they were ready for AfricanX this year. “We’ve been training together for two months on trails that are much harder and more technical than the AfricanX trails. There was no way that we’d struggle this weekend. Taking the title feels really good.”
Sesipi and Mudzinganyama secured the Stage Three victory in 01 hour 38 minutes 12 seconds, and the overall men’s team title in a lightning fast combined time of 06 hours 43 minutes 06 seconds. Ben Matiso and Retsepile Khotle of Team Edunova secured the second spot on the podium, with Kane Reilly and Thabang Madiba of Team Salomon rounding off the podium.
Reigning women’s team champions, Landie Greyling and Megan Mackenzie of Team Salomon Blondie successfully defended their title in an impressive combined time of 08 hours 11 minutes 54 seconds.
“We had a big lead going into Stage Three so Landie and I just decided to run within ourselves and savour the moment,” says Mackenzie. “The competition was great. It’s amazing how something is so much sweeter if you have to fight for it. Running with Landie is really special. It’s as if our friendship grows with every event.”
According to Greyling, it was a tough Stage Three. “I could feel the two days in my legs. Our approach to Stage Three was a tactical one. We got to enjoy the routes a little more today. There was definitely a sting in the tail the last 3km. We are really happy to successfully defend our title.”
Carla Van Huyssteen and Leilani Scheffer of Team ASICS Ladies secured the second spot on the podium after three days of racing, with Keelyn Van Breda and Claire Horner of Team My Training Day firmly in third place.
Team KWAY Nedbank’s AJ Calitz and Nicolette Griffioen also secured their second stage victory and overall mixed team champion title in 01 hour 52 minutes 07 seconds and 07 hours 38 seconds 04 minutes respectively.
“The first part of the stage was flat, but the middle was technical and fun,” says Griffioen. “We took it easy in the beginning, catching the leading teams in the single track and on the climbs. Running with AJ was a new challenge for me. Placing first in the mixed team category is really rewarding especially after a challenging race.”
According to Calitz racing in the mixed team category is hard. “When racing as a team you need to lift both your and your partner’s performance. So you actually work harder. I do, however, still have a couple of years left in the elite men’s category. So next year I’ll be back, hopefully with Bernard Rukadza. He’ll always be my first choice.”
Danette Smith and JC Visser of Team Soul Running claimed the second spot on the podium, with Team Keyhealth Nevarest’s Ruan Van Der Merwe and Tumelo Matlou in third place.
“As a relatively big brand in South Africa, Cell C tries to do a lot of different things for different markets. One of those things is sponsorship,” says Doug Mattheus, Cell C Executive Head of Marketing. “With trail running on the up and people really enjoying our beautiful country it’s nice for our brand to be associated with a world class lifestyle event. We are thankful for each and every runner that took off work to participate. We look forward to building on the experience in 2018.”
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