Fitter, wiser Sesipi takes African X Trailrun title


GRABOUW – Twelve months ago, 22-year-old Johannesburg athlete Edwin Sesipi ended the last leg of the African X Trailrun in an ambulance. He vowed to return.

One year older, somewhat fitter and infinitely wiser, Sesipi fulfilled his promise.

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Edwin Sesipi (left) and Givemore Mudzinganyama were in complete control in the final stages of the African X Trailrun on Sunday. Photo: Stephen GrangerMeg Mackenzie (left) and Landie Greyling retained their title in the women’s section of the African X Trailrun. Photo: Tobias GinsbergTop trail athletes Nicolette Griffioen and AJ Calitz won the mixed team competition at Houw Hoek on Sunday. Photo: Stephen Granger

Together with regular teammate Givemore Mudzinganyama, he crossed the finish line at Houw Hoek Inn in triumph on Sunday, winning both the third stage over 23km from Bot River and overall victory in the biggest win of his life.

Team ASICS Boys Gauteng, aka Sesipi and Mudzinganyama, were in control of the three-stage race over 91km from the outset, winning the final two legs and finishing seven minutes ahead of second-placed Ben Matiso and Reptisile Khotle of Edunova, clocking 1 hr 38 min 12 sec (1:38.12) for the leg and an overall total of 6:43.06.

“This was a great win for us,” Sesipi remarked. “We have worked hard for two months in the Cape, training on the trails with our mentor Nicholas Rupanga.

“And all the hard work paid off today! I think we can say we’ve become trail runners now!”

The pair come from a cross country and road background, and were relative trail racing novices at last year’s event.

But a first and second at last year’s Cape Town Marathon Peace Trail Race over 24km and this weekend’s victory have confirmed their status in the off-road discipline.

The third leg saw a return to form of “trail running royalty”, Thabang Madiba and Kane Reilly. Team Salomon finally found their mojo to clinch the runners-up position on Sunday and third place overall.

“Finally my body kicked in, about halfway through the stage,” admitted former African Long Distance champion Madiba.

“I’ve been out with a foot injury since the Otter Trail last year, and only been training for two months. If there had been a fourth leg tomorrow, we would have won it for sure!”

North West-based athletes Lelani Scheffer and Carla van Huyssteen scored an upset victory in the women’s competition in the final stage on Sunday, but it was not enough to prevent Landie Greyling and Meg Mackenzie from achieving their third win in a row in South Africa’s biggest team trail event.

Meg Mackenzie (left) and Landie Greyling retained their title in the women’s section of the African X Trailrun. Photo: Tobias Ginsberg

“We had fun out there today,” Greyling said. “We each had a bad patch, but not at the same stage of the race, so opted not to really push to catch Lelani and Carla. But credit to them – they ran a great race today.”

Four times African X winner AJ Calitz had planned to race with top KZN athlete Eric Ngubane, but switched to the mixed team category when injury prevented Ngubane from competing.

Johnannesburg athlete Nicolette Griffioen joined the “Ginger Ninja” and the K-Way Nedbank pair raced away with the mixed team spoils ahead of Stellenbosch athlete Danette Smith and her partner JC Visser.

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