Champion AJ, Bernard claim AfricanX stage two | TeamSA - TeamSA

Champion AJ, Bernard claim AfricanX stage two

Defending champions AJ Calitz and Bernard Rukadza won Saturday’s second stage of the ProNutro AfricanX trail run presented by New Balance in the Boland.
The two beat all-comers on the gruelling 34-kilometre route that started at Mount Rozier Estate in Somerset West and ended at Paul Cluver Amphitheatre in Grabouw after a daunting 1100m of climbing during the stage.
The Team KWAY duo clocked 2hr 52min 03sec.
‘Bernie was super strong,’ said Calitz. ‘Some people might say that we flew up the hill, but let me clarify that, you never fly up a hill. It’s the ability to suffer more than the oke next to you that gets you to the top first.
‘Bernie and I work well together when we’re both hurting. We run together a lot and have become good friends.  That is what matters. We had an awesome day, but we are tired now.
‘Going into Stage Three there is a lot to play for. We want that win’.
Eric Ngubane and Thabang Madiba of Team Salomon Men came in second, while Edwin Sesipi and Johardt Van Heerden of Team 32gi Gauteng Men’s finished third.
Competition was tight in the women’s race, but Meg Mackenzie and Landie Greyling of Team Salomon Blondies were not going down without a fight.
‘After today I have so much more respect for Landie as a trail runner,’ says Mackenzie. ‘Even though she woke up with a sore throat, she completed the stage. We actually learnt a lot as a team today, silent communication being one of the things.
‘It definitely brought us closer, with Landie barely being able to speak. Our plan for Stage Three is for Landie to rest up, sleep. Tomorrow we will take it easy and run our own race’.
The Team Salomon Blondies, pictured above, completed the 34km route in 3:26:06.
Nicolette Griffioen and Carla Van Huyssteen of Team ProNutro Timefreight came in second, while Inge Visser and Liesbeth Van Der Merwe of Team Ganbei finished third.
In the mixed team’s race Yolande Maclean and Nic De Beer of Team CW-X Ultraspire were not letting go of the rein,s finishing first in a well-deserved time of 3:12:14.
According to De Beer, Stage Two was a tough ask. ‘It was more technical, our legs were tired and we just had to hang in there. We have approximately a nine-minute lead going into Stage Three.  It’s a good lead that we should be able to protect.
‘Yolande is a good road runner.  We’ll take it easy until the top of the hill and then we will fly’.
Kerry-Ann Marshall and Morne Van Greunen of Team Enduro Hub came in second, while Natia and Antoine Van Heerden of Team Twining finished third.
Sunday’s third and final stage starts and finishes at the Houw Hoek Inn in Grabow and will be fought out over 22km with 670m of climbing.