Swapping their road running shoes for trail shoes, the Nedbank running club saw some great performances from their athletes at the AfricanX trail run that took place in beautiful scenery in the Western Cape.
With most of the road running calendar lost due to Covid19, Nedbank running club national team manager and former Comrades winner came up with a plan for his athletes who had very limited racing opportunities. “Our athletes are strong, and I thought that why not use their experience and take on the trail guys,” said Bester.
Not only did they take on the trail guys but dominated! The pairing of Juan Van Deventer and Eric Ngubane, the latter an experienced ultra-trail runner, proved formidable as the pair dominated proceedings from day 1, crossing the line first on both day 1 and day 2. Not far behind them were the Nedbank RC pairing of Ettienne Plaaitjies and Lloyd Bosman, both speedsters at the shorter distances.
Over the first 2 days there was also a fierce competition in the women’s race with Nedbank RC duo Deanne Laubscher and Chrizell Roberts going into day 3 just behind the pace of the leading team. With experience in the ultras to both their names, the only thing that lacked was experience in the trails, but the pair were showing tremendous grit and determination and were performing exceptionally.
It would all come down to the final day as runners faced a tough 20km trek from Houw Hoek Farm stall to the finish at Houw Hoek Hotel, the official venue for the event. Although Van Deventer and Ngubane faded towards the end to cross the line 4th on day 3, they had built up a sizeable enough lead over the first 2 days and were crowned 2021 AfricanX champions. Teammates Plaaitjies and Bosman also had great runs to finish 2nd overall, giving the Nedbank running club the top two spots on the podium.
“That was definitely a different but enjoyable experience,” said Van Deventer. “Day 3 was tough, but we ran cleverly as we knew what lead we had and managed any gaps over the last 5km today. I’m so proud that I had Eric as a partner as his experience proved beneficial for us to win.” From a 1500m Olympic Games finalist to AfricanX trail winner, Van Deventer certainly came to the party with teammate Ngubane.
In the women’s race, the Nedbank RC duo of Laubscher and Roberts had to settle for second spot overall at the end of day 3. “I am proud of the way all our athletes ran over these 3 days,” said Bester.
The Nedbank running club congratulates everyone who completed this 3-day journey. You are all champions.
Overall classification team results after 3 days:
- Nedbank 1 (Juan Van Deventer & Eric Ngubane) 5:08:36
- Nedbank 4 (Lloyd Bosman & Ettienne Plaaitjies) 5:11:13
5. Nedbank 5 (Siyabonga Sakwe & Lindikhaya Mthangayi) 5:32:35
6. Nedbank 3 (Malusi Dlomo & Raoul Mabirimisa) 5:37:41
7. Nedbank 2 (Collin Kanyimo & Ludwick Mamabolo) 5:40:35
- Nedbank Women (Deanne Laubscher & Chrizell Roberts) 6:41:37
Image by: Tobias Ginsberg