Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz and Carla Van Huyssteen captured the ninth-annual Totalsports XTERRA South Africa Championship 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 (pictured courtesy Oakpics.com) 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 (pictured above – courtesy Oakpics.com), 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.
“Kahuna Dave” Nicholas, the managing director of the XTERRA World Tour, has been thoroughly impressed with the beauty, organization, and camaraderie of Grabouw.
“XTERRA South Africa has been everything that I’ve expected and more. It’s the largest of all the XTERRA’s because of the people, they’re adventurous. There are so many athletes who impress me, but I think the athletes that impress me the most are those with jobs and families,” said Nicholas.
Top 5 Men
1. Conrad Stoltz (RSA) 2:26:02 – 19:09, 1:14:00, 50:55
2. Stuart Marais (RSA) 2:28:14 – 20:18, 1:19:08, 45:52
3. Dan Hugo (RSA) 2:29:04 – 19:15, 1:20:08, 47:32
4. Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) 2:29:18 – 22:09, 1:13:58, 50:59
5. Raynard Tissink (RSA) 2:37:13 – 19:16, 1:25:37, 49:45
Top 5 Women
1. Carla Van Huyssteen (RSA) 2:50:28 – 19:45, 1:34:04, 53:59
2. Carina Wasle (AUT) 2:55:31 – 21:09, 1:37:26, 54:01
3. Candice Davison (RSA) 3:16:44 – 25:03,-, 57:28
4. Aileen Anderson (RSA) 3:18:40 – 24:39, 1:44:51, 1:04:52
5. Hilana Marais (RSA) 3:19:17 – 24:39, 1:44:27, 1:06:10
* The distances were: 1.5 km swim, 27 km mountain bike, 11 km trail run