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Words & Photos: Mark Sampson, Thribe Media
What do you get if you take a big dollop of mountains, a sprinkling of forest and some stunning coastline? The afb SOX Trail Run, of course. And when you add a few hundred runners, you have a winning recipe for one amazing event.
The third edition of the afb SOX Trail Run drew a top-class field.
Taking place on the weekend of 8 to 10 August 2014, the third edition of the afb SOX Trail Run has come and gone as quickly as some of the winners crossed the line. Hosted by SANParks at the Ebb and Flow Rest Camp in Wilderness, Garden Route, runners spent their downtime in the lap of luxury on the edge of the tannin-stained Touw River.
The afb SOX Trail Run is the flagship event of TriSport’s calendar. Boasting the largest prize purse of any trail run and traversing spectacular mountains, forest and coastline, the event drew a top-class field.
The event focused on showcasing the best scenery the Garden Route has to offer, and day one was all about the mountains. A short shuttle drive delivered the competitors into the heart of the Outeniqua Mountains. Covering just over 30 kilometres, and having 1,634 metres of elevation gain, many of the runners realised that as fun as it looked, the route was not going to be as easy as they initially thought.
Day two was all about the Knysna forests. The route took runners on a 30-kilometre loop through South Africa’s premium indigenous forest. Soft single track under the canopy of yellowwood trees and numerous river crossings, this is the stage many of the runners return for year after year.
Day three was about the coastline, with Race Director Hano Otto having a bit of mercy on the field with a shortened stage of just less than 20 kilometres. Hugging the coastline from Victoria Bay and all the way back to the Ebb-and-Flow Rest Camp, runners were treated to railway lines, beaches and a final stretch along the Touw River.
Adding an extra bit of spice to each day’s race was the King and Queen of the Mountains prize for the first male and female runner to reach the highpoint of the day's route.
After three days of hotly contested running, Bernard Rukadza and AJ Calitz (Team K-Way Contego) won each stage of the race to clinch an overall winning time of 6:33 in the Pairs - and set a new race record. The Mixed division was dominated by husband and wife pair of Landie and Christiaan Greyling (Team Salomon) in a brilliant 7:21. Katya Soggot and Chantel Nienaber (Team Vivo) led the Female Pairing division to win in a time of 8:30, even with Katya having an injury scare on the final day. The Vet Male division saw CEO Karl Westvig, of the sponsor afb, and his partner Aubrey Isaaks taking top honours. In the Solo division, local runner Victor Gugushe, aptly named ‘the hunter’, commanded the field in a winning time of 6:44. The winning Solo Female runner was Caitlin van der Berg in an impressive 8:38.
Soft single track under the canopy of yellowwood trees and numerous river crossings, this is the stage many of the runners return for year after year.
Going from strength to strength, the afb SOX Trail Run is growing in stature due to location, great sponsorship and the superb organisation from Hano of Sonja Otto of TriSport. Each year new innovations add to an already winning formula, thus bringing back the same runners and newbies to see what all the fuss is about. Until next year, stay fit and keep trying your best - Team TriSport.
For more information on the event and all the results, visit www.soxtrailrun.co.za
Bernard Rukadza and AJ Calitz (Team K-Way Contego) won each stage of the race to clinch an overall winning time of 6:33 in the Pairs - and set a new race record.
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