Ngubane, Van Deventer crowned 2021 AfricanX Champions
Eric Ngubane and Juan Van Deventer (Nedbank 1) settle for fourth-place on stage 3 but secure overall win at 2021 THIRSTI AFRICANX.
The only team to claim all three stage victories, Vicky van der Merwe and Danette Walley (STS), obliterated the field in the Women’s Team category.
Although Eric Ngubane and Juan Van Deventer (Nedbank 1) had to settle for a fourth-place on stage 3, the lead that they had managed to build up after Stage 1 and 2 of South Africa’s premier three-day stage race was enough to secure them the overall title at the 2021 THIRSTI AFRICANX.
“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 managed 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.”
“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.”
Ngubane and Van Deventer (Nedbank 1) completed the three stages in an impressive combined time of 5 hours 08 minutes 36 seconds. Bosman and Plaaitjies (Nedbank 4) came in second, while Thabang Madiba and Renier Grobler (Murray & Roberts) finished third.
The only team to claim all three stage victories, Vicky van der Merwe and Danette Walley (STS) obliterated the field in the Women’s Team category.
“Today was so nice,” said 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 AFRICANX, it’s also the furthest that I’ve ever run.”
Although Walley has competed at the 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.”
Van der Merwe and Walley completed the three stages in a 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 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 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.
Bosman and Burger completed the three stages of the 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.
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 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.