2012 marks the ninth year of XTERRA racing in South Africa, and its growth has been nothing short of remarkable.
February 29, 2012 – From a single event in 2004, Michael Meyer, the director of Stillwater Sport & Entertainment, has built XTERRA South Africa into a lifestyle sports juggernaut with thousands of competitors, several big events and TV shows, major media coverage, and the sports’ biggest stars (think Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz and Dan Hugo).
“XTERRA is really popular here,” said Meyer. “It’s now the biggest participation triathlon event in South Africa (on-road and off-road). It has really become a South African lifestyle. While we’re not perfect yet, we like to believe our team of race organizers put on great events. Our venues are exciting, the people that compete are great, it’s inexpensive to enter, and doing the event is a great excuse to have a fantastic SA holiday.”
Dan Hugo, the 2010 and 2011 XTERRA South Africa Champion, agrees. “I am so proud to be a part of the XTERRA community here, and it is amazing to see how it has grown. There were well over 1,000 competitors at each of the races I raced at last year. This year’s first race in Buffelspoort drew 1,500, and there were 2,000 this weekend. It seems every year more and more South Africans are realizing what a fun adventure the sport of XTERRA can be. It is safe, welcoming, social and closely intertwined with nature.”
On Saturday more than 1,000 athletes took part in the XTERRA Lite course designed for newcomers and on Sunday, February 26, 2012, another 1,000 took part in the main event. Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz and Carla Van Huyssteen captured the ninth-annual Totalsports XTERRA South Africa Championship presented by REHIDRAT® SPORT on a ‘stunning day’ at the Grabouw Country Club in the Western Province.
The victory is Stoltz fifth at XTERRA South Africa but first since 2007, and the first for fellow South African Van Huyssteen, who finished third at this race a year ago. Of note, the last time Stoltz opened the season with a win in his home country he finished the season with his third of four XTERRA World Championships.
Both Stoltz and Van Huyssteen were the first racers to hit the bike course and neither faltered thereafter in a race that combined a 1.5km swim, with a 25km mountain bike and 10km trail run.
Stoltz winning time was 2:26:02, more than two minutes ahead of XTERRA newcomer Stuart Marais, while Van Huyssteen came across in 2:50:28 – five minutes in front of last year’s winner Carina Wasle from Austria.
According to Stoltz, he came into the race with a game plan. “I didn’t want to overcook on the bike, so I kept it steady and conservative. The course is challenging in every aspect of mountain biking. It is definitely all that XTERRA is about. It is good to see the amount of new single track in Grabouw, making it a mountain biking destination like it used to be. On the run leg I opted not to take a swim in the stream as shortly afterwards there is a big climb. The wet clothes can easily add on a kilogram or two. Athletes doing their first XTERRA today can be very proud of themselves as the route is long, hard and technical. Raynard Tissink also did really well finishing 5th overall. It is great to see athletes switching from road to XTERRA, it is not easy. It is always great winning at home. The sport of XTERRA is getting big in South Africa. I once again had awesome support from my wife Liezel. To get onto the mountain bike route she hitched a ride at the back of the event photographer’s motorbike. This is actually scary as I know how Fanus rides. Next time I’m going to pack in my motor cross gear for Liezel.”
Stuart Marais came in 2nd, while Dan Hugo finished 3rd. Misfortune hit Hugo on the mountain bike route. Hugo came through transition in 3rd place behind Nico Pfitzenmaier. It was at water point three on the trail run that Stuart Marais managed to pass Hugo. By water point four Marais had managed to pass Pfitzenmaier as well. Hugo, continuing to chase, managed to pass Pfitzenmaier in the final stages of the run and cross the finish line in third place.
For Van Huyssteen, who finished 4th in the XTERRA European Tour last season (best showing was 3rd at XTERRA Italy), walking away with the title of XTERRA SA Champion was a dream come true.
“Winning at XTERRA Grabouw has been my goal for three years now. It truly is amazing to get the recognition for all the hard work that I’ve put into the sport. I think most supporters were hoping for a double win for SA today. This made crossing the finish line all the more sweet as everybody was so happy for me. I felt surprisingly good during the swim and just knew that I’d have a great race. The run route suited me perfectly. The climbs weren’t too long, with every climb being followed by nice long single track and downhill sections. The mountain bike discipline was technical with some serious down hills. All in all I had a great race and am really pleased with my performance on the day,” says Van Huyssteen.
Austrian Carina Wasle, who was third in 2011 XTERRA European Tour and won titles at XTERRA South Africa and Brazil last year, came in 2nd, while Candice Davison finished 3rd.
|Pl||Top 5 Men||Country||Time||Swim||Bike||Run|
|Pl||Top 5 Women||Country||Time||Swim||Bike||Run|
|1||Carla Van Huyssteen||RSA||2:50:28||0:19:45||1:34:04||0:53:59|
“Kahuna Dave” Nicholas, the managing director of the XTERRA World Tour, has been thoroughly impressed with the beauty, organization, and camaraderie of Grabouw. Here he gives us a little color from his trip…
Nicholas wrote: What an amazing place. The weather is fantastic, the people are unbelievably friendly and helpful and beers are only 15-20 rand… or about $2 to $3.
The race venue is about an hour + outside Cape Town at a great reservoir near the vineyards and orchards and vegetable farms. Lovely big hills surround the lake and when you come here, bring your climbing shoes. While none go on for a mile, they can be technical and steep. The course is a beautiful blend of single, double track and fire road. The run is not as technical but has some gnarly downhills you must be careful on.
Cars drive on the left here, like England, Australia, Japan, New Zealand so the steering wheel is on the right and the gearshift on the left. In two days I think only once did I get into the car from the “correct” side. Complete fun. The safest way to drive is to just follow somebody down the road so you don’t get caught driving on the “right” and into a head-on.
Already seen Ostriches walking along and sticking those incredibly long necks into the turf to find food. The baboons are closer to and inside Cape Town and the stories of how they can open car doors and trash the insides looking for foods are legendary. You can be sure that when we get to them, the car will be locked.
While it’s still freezing in January/February across much of the continental U.S., it’s nice and warm in South Africa, and that’s not the only reason XTERRA athletes should put this race on their to-do list.
“It’s a great time to visit us,” said Meyer. “Stay in Stellenbosch, the home of XTERRA in South Africa! It is driving distance from the sea, and when you’re not training you can catch some great waves, enjoy the great weather, and have an awesome dinner at one of our many outstanding restaurants. Alternatively you can also go on a tour of the spectacular Winelands, visit Cape Town for a trip up our renowned Table Mountain, stop off at the V&A Waterfront for a magnificent shopping and/or dining experience, the list is endless.”
Next on the XTERRA World Tour: The XTERRA South Africa Championship race was the first world tour event to qualify amateur athletes into the XTERRA World Championship to be held in Kapalua, Maui (Hawaii) on October 28, 2012. Next up, the XTERRA Asia Tour featuring three straight weeks of championship events in Guam, the Philippines, and Saipan.
|Feb 26||XTERRA South Africa Championship, Grabouw|
|Mar 10||XTERRA Guam Championship, Piti|
|Mar 18||XTERRA Philippines Championship, Cebu|
|Mar 24||XTERRA Saipan Championship, Northern Marianas|
|Apr 14||XTERRA New Zealand Championship, Rotorua|
|May 27||XTERRA Italy Championship*, Orosei, Sardinia|
|July 8||XTERRA France Championship*, Xonrupt, Gerardmer|
|July 15||XTERRA Brazil Championship, Manaus, Amazon|
|Aug 4||XTERRA Czech Championship*, Prachatice, South Bohemia|
|Aug 4||XTERRA Mexico Championship, Tapalpa, Jalisco|
|Aug 11||XTERRA Germany Championship*, Zittau|
|Aug 25||XTERRA Japan Championship, Marunuma|
|Sept 2||XTERRA Canada Championship, Canmore, A.B.|
|Sept 8||XTERRA Switzerland*, Prangins|
|Sept 16||XTERRA Venezuela, Villa Caribe|
|Sept 22||XTERRA USA Championship, Ogden/Snowbasin, UT|
|Oct 28||XTERRA World Championship, Maui|