Although Eric Ngubane and Juan Van Deventer (Nedbank 1) had to settle for a 4th place Stage Three finish on Sunday 28 March 2021, the lead that they had managed to build up after Stage One and Two of South Africa’s premier three-day stage race was enough to secure them the coveted tile of 2021 THIRSTI AFRICANX Trailrun Champions.
“Stage Three was interesting,” laughs Van Deventer. “We tried to mark Lloyd (Bosman) and Ettienne (Plaaitjies) of Team Nedbank 4. At about 17km they made a hell of a move and we just had to hang in there and fight until the finish, which we did. We knew that we had a good lead, so we ran strategically as we didn’t want to burn out in the beginning. The last three kilometres they kind of went out of sight, but we still manged to see them every now and again, so we knew that we were still close enough to take the overall victory. I’m happy and proud of Eric and proud of our teamwork. We pulled it off, that is the main thing. The THIRSTI AFRICANX has been fantastic.”
“Coming into the race we knew that there was no need for us to break ourselves. We just needed to protect our position,” says Ngubane. “We wanted to win the title. The THIRSTI AFRICANX Trailrun was very well organised, the routes were
well-marked and the marshals cheered for us every day. That’s what we are here for. We enjoyed mixing it up with guys who mostly do road races. It means a lot to be the 2021 THIRSTI AFRICANX Champions.”
Eric Ngubane and Juan Van Deventer (Nedbank 1) completed the three stages of the THIRSTI AFRICANX Trailrun in an impressive combined time of 05 hours 08 minutes 36 seconds. Lloyd Bosman and Ettienne Plaaitjies (Nedbank 4) came in second, while Thabang Madiba and Renier Grobler (Murray & Roberts) finished third.
“Today was so nice,” says van der Merwe. “We went out with a plan, but things didn’t really go according to that plan. The Nedbank girls ran hard especially on the downhill, they basically sprinted flat out. We literally caught them with 400m to go. This was my first THIRSTI AFRICANX, it’s also the furthest that I’ve ever run. The event was well organised, and we got to experience routes that we’d never get to experience outside of the event.”
Although Walley has competed at the THRISTI AFRICANX six times and has won at least one stage, this is the first time that she wins all three stages while claiming the overall champion title. “I didn’t realise how big an achievement this would be for me, until now, I’m actually really emotional about it. Choosing the correct partner to run with is very important, not just in ability but also in personality. Vicky is really easy going and gets on with everybody. Even when I can see that the route is getting too long for her, she doesn’t complain, instead she just endures. That’s all that I want in a partner. Being able to support each other in the correct way is very important. The THIRSTI AFRICANX Trailrun was fantastic. I am going to be on a high for a long time.”
Vicky van der Merwe and Danette Walley (STS) completed the three stages of the THIRSTI AFRICANX Trailrun in a well-deserved combined time of 06 hours 36 minutes 21 seconds. Deanne Laubscher and Chrizell Roberts (Nedbank Women) came in second, while Jeannie Henderson and Kate Rees (Old Mountain Goats) finished third.
The Mixed Team race was hotly contested, but Comrades Marathon Champion (2016) Charne Bosman and Kallie Burger (40 Strong) proved to be fighting fit, claiming their second stage victory for the weekend as well as the overall victory.
“Stage Three was hard,” admits Bosman. “Nico and Natalie Sterk went out hard from the start. My legs didn’t feel that great. We tried to persevere, but every time that we reached a technical section, they would build a lead. Another team passed us with 5km to go, so we thought we’d finish third today. When the tar road opened-up, Kallie decided that we should run 3.20 / 3.30 per kilometre. We then managed to create a gap. This was by far the toughest day for me. My first THIRSTI AFRICANX and it was one of the nicest events that I’ve ever done. I like the toughness, you can recover on the slow sections, then you do some technical sections before hitting the flats where you can go again. It’s not just one pace the whole time.”
“This is my first AFRICANX and it was awesome,” says Burger. “I am very proud of Charne, she really persevered today. She was a little nervous on the technical sections, but luckily for us the last 5km was open, so we could stretch our legs. We really wanted to win the stage and we did. I’ll definitely come back. The THIRSTI AFRICANX was unbelievable, so well organised, the routes were perfectly marked, it’s just an awesome event. I can see why it’s the premier stage race in South Africa.
Charne Bosman and Kallie Burger (40 Strong) completed the three stages of the THIRSTI AFRICANX Trailrun in a lightning-fast combined time of 06 hours 09 minutes 12 seconds. Nico and Natalie Sterk (AFRICANX SterkSpan) came in second, while Samantha Bieske and Ryan Eichstadt (The Badgers) finished third.
“The 2021 THIRSTI AFRICANX Trailrun was everything that we had hoped for and more,” says Michael Meyer, founder of the event and Managing Director of Stillwater Sports. “We’ve missed the camaraderie, the routes, the venue, the vibe – everything that makes the AFRICANX experience so special. This year was extra special with THIRSTI coming onboard as the title sponsor and First Ascent as the apparel partner. The THIRSTI product range is phenomenal, while First Ascent is synonymous with world-class design and quality. To have the AFRICANX Trailrun, one of the strongest trail brands in South Africa, join forces with THIRSTI and First Ascent, means we now have three Proudly South African brands, combing their strengths to ensure a truly unique outdoor experience.”
“Trail running is a fantastic sport for THIRSTI to be associated with,” says Rob Hoatson, Managing Director of THIRSTI Water.
“It has high energy, remarkable and engaged athletes and the best kind of camaraderie – all in a beautiful setting provided by nature. Stillwater Sports is a superb partner, and has put on a seamlessly extraordinary event. Thanks for letting us be part of these extraordinary three days.”
Starting at the Houw Hoek Farm Stall and finishing at the Houw Hoek Hotel, the Stage 3 route included sections of the magnificent Lebanon Trails, which are new to the THIRSTI AFRICANX. The shortest of the three routes, Stage 3 saw runners having to complete a distance of +-23km with a total climb of 450m. Stage 3 was also the much anticipated ‘Dress Up Day’ and entrants did not disappoint.
2021 Event Information: THIRSTI AFRICANX Trailrun
Teams of two trail running enthusiasts (male/female/mixed) were seen battling it out on a route varying in distances each day. Each stage featured a different route that kept things exciting while leaving runners in awe.
|Format:||Three-day stage race / teams of two (male/female/mixed)|
|Festival Village:||On the grounds of the Houw Hoek Hotel (Bot River, Overberg Region / Western Cape)|
|Start Time:||From 07:00 in batches, 15 minutes apart|
|Stage 1:||Friday 26 March 2021|
|Distance:||+- 24km / total climb 650m|
|Start Venue:||Paul Cluver Wine Estate|
|Finish Venue:||Houw Hoek Hotel|
|Stage 2:||Saturday 27 March 2021|
|Distance:||+- 31km / total climb 850m|
|Start Venue:||Wildekrans Wine Estate|
|Finish Venue:||Houw Hoek Hotel|
|Stage 3:||Sunday 28 March 2021|
|Distance:||+- 20km / total climb 450m|
|Start Venue:||Houw Hoek Farm Stall|
|Finish Venue:||Houw Hoek Hotel|
Iconic to the THIRSTI AFRICANX Trailrun, ALL entrants received an event hoodie and an exclusive finisher’s t-shirt and medal, amongst other exciting sponsor gifts!
CHARITY SUPPORT: The THIRSTI AFRICANX Trailrun proudly supports The Timothy James Harlow Foundation (TJHF), a non-profit organisation that searches for opportunities to make a difference in the lives of individuals and communities.
PLEASE NOTE: Government Regulations regarding COVID-19 were strictly adhered to during the event.
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Who is THIRSTI?
THIRSTI is more than just Natural Spring Water; THIRSTI is a way of life. THIRSTI attracts a young, vibrant market with a thirst for life and authentic experiences.
THIRSTI started production at the end of 2015 with their iconic Still and Sparkling ranges. 2019 saw the release of the ultimate sports drink, ISOFIT+, and a bold THIRSTI Flavours range was added in 2020.
With its unique taste, attractive design, and a pH level of 8, THIRSTI has made massive strides in its relatively short time in the market with listings in all major retailers throughout South Africa.
THIRSTI has a strong focus on event sponsorships across multiple sporting codes and, in 2019, they became the hydration partner to both the Comrades Marathon as well as The Sharks rugby team. Adding to this, was the 2021 announcement of the ASBA Cape Epic official water partnership.
For more information about THIRSTI, please visit www.thirsti.co.za