2022 THIRSTI AFRICANX TRAILRUN closes off on a high note at the Houw Hoek Hotel!

 Photo Credit: Chris Hitchcock


“Let Nature Give You A Run For Your Money”

Emotions were high on Monday 21 March 2022 as trail running enthusiasts closed off their 2022 THIRSTI AFRICANX TRAILRUN Three-Day Stage Race, which boasted a total combined distance of 74km over three days, at the picturesque Houw Hoek Hotel.

Starting and finishing at the Houw Hoek Hotel, Stage Three featured a +-18km route. Although the shortest of the three stages, Stage Three did boast a total ascent of 720m.


Team Salomon’s Kane Reilly and Daniel Claassen pulled out all the stops to secure their 3rd consecutive stage victory and overall event victory on the day. Reilly and Claassen claimed gold in the Men’s Team Category after three days of racing, completing the three stages in a lightning-fast combined time of 05 hours 17 minutes 33 seconds. 

“Kane was just pushing the pace today,” says an exhausted Claassen. “We had to really work hard to drop Retsepile, he was very strong and running very well. We only managed to drop him at about 14km, but he was still breathing in our necks, so we had to work till the finish line. I had to give it my all. It’s been a super fun weekend. You’ll never come to a race and not have the goal to win and it’s nice to race well over three days. I’m really chuffed with our effort today. The AFRICANX is proper.”

“Daniel has been a weapon,” says Reilly. “We train a lot together and we just continued in the groove throughout the weekend. We had to work hard. Retsepile won Stage Three last year. Just as last year, he had a bad middle stage, so we thought that maybe he’d be a bit rested and come out firing, which he did. The start was super-fast. We could not let him get away because the stage was just too short. As soon as we could start climbing on more rocky trails we just kept pushing. I’m glad he dropped then, thankfully it wasn’t a sprint finish. I am pretty stoked because I’ve been on the podium a few times, but I have never won this race before. I love racing in South Africa, especially in races close to home and AFRICANX is one of those races. I’ve just never been able to win it. To tick that off is a good feeling. I’ll be back next year. We’re going to encourage more top runners to come back to this event. It is just a good event to have all the top guys at.”

Lovemo Nyaude and Hakeem Smith from Team HTRCrew Goats came in 2nd overall after three days of racing, while Wandisile Nongodlwana and Nicholas Rupanga from Team ASICS Mojos finished 3rd.

Retsepile Khotle from Team Here to WIN was an “individual runner” on the day as his teammate, Siviwe Nkombi had to withdraw after Stage Two due to injury.


Marion Leiberich and Lijan Van Niekerk from Team The Border Collies secured the top spot on the podium in the Women’s Team Competition after completing the three stages in a deserving combined time of 06 hours 31 minutes 28 seconds.

“Today was great, I really enjoyed the trails,” says Leiberich. “It was such a beautiful view running along the ridge. I thought that the stage would be harder, but it was the most enjoyable stage. We worked well as a team. I really enjoy hills, so on the hills I pulled Lijan, and on the downhills I was holding on. We have different strengths and that complemented each other. We haven’t spoken about it yet, but I’d love to team up with Lijan again and come back next year.”

“I could feel the tiredness in my legs,” admits Lijan. “The stage was great. I loved the scenery. The trails were high in the mountains with single track and fynbos. It was beautiful. We went out quite hard because it started with a 9km downhill and it was hard to hold back. It’s amazing to claim the Women’s Team Title today. I’ve always wanted to do AFRICANX and can’t believe that we won.”

Robyn Gardener and Leonie Schoeman from Team Handle with Flair came in 2nd overall after three days of racing, while Madeleen Van Wyk and Marise Prinsloo from Team Jetlagged finished 3rd.


The Mixed Team Title was firmly secured by Team K-Way NewBalance’s Kerry-Ann Marshall and AJ Calitz who completed the three stages in a well-deserved combined time of 06 hours 13 minutes 36 seconds. 

“Today was awesome,” says Marshall. “The routes were beautiful and flowing, with big climbs. It was fun to be part of the whole vibe with all the runners creating such an awesome atmosphere out there. It was loads of fun. We wanted to be a little more conservative on the downhills. AJ is just super- human on the climbs, so I just held on to his pack while he pulled us all the way up. It’s such a good feeling the closer you get to the festival village you hear the music and the commentator.  You’re tired, but you know that you are almost home, it’s been a good three days of running and you’ve given it your all. There’s nothing better. I’m just super happy that the body held out and that we could claim the Mixed Team Title.”

“The stage was wonderful,” says Calitz. “I think the route was a little more technical than yesterday. Kerry-Ann and I decided that we were going to start a bit slower and hang back. I’ve done this route before, so I knew that the climb was long and hard. We conserved our energy on the way down and as we turned, I told her to hang on to the back of me and let’s keep it hard and steady. We made it to the top and started building a bit of a gap. Heading towards home was amazing. I was really looking forward to seeing my kids. This is the AFRICANX that I remember and the one that I want to come back to.

Paige Botten and Josh Van Niekerk from Team First Ascent came in 2nd overall after three days of racing, while Greg Erlangsen and Melissa Laing from Team Pura finished 3rd.


“Whether you were a seasoned trail runner or someone with a come-and-try-it attitude, the THIRSTI AFRICANX TRAILRUN delivered a fun, scenic and rewarding event atmosphere in the beautiful Cape wilderness. We love the association with health, fitness and nature as runners stayed hydrated with our natural spring water and ISOFIT+ Sport Drinks,” says Michelle Lillico, THIRSTI Head of Marketing. 

“It was a great experience to spend three days outdoors with members of SA’s trail running community,” says Riaan Oosthuizen, General Manager of First Ascent. “We loved seeing trail runners put our product to the test and trust that after three days of challenging (but fun) trail running the 2022 First Ascent AFRICANX Event Garment has become a cherished clothing piece that trail runners will wear with pride.” 



Launched in 2009, the THIRSTI AFRICANX TRAILRUN is synonymous with magnificent trails, spectacular views, mouth-watering food, a relaxed atmosphere, great vibe and most importantly, teamwork! Teams of two trail running enthusiasts (male/female/mixed) were seen battling it out on a route varying in distances each day.

DATE Saturday 19 – Monday 21 March 2022
VENUE Houw Hoek Hotel (Western Cape)
EVENT FORMAT Three-Day Stage Trail Run
ENTRY FORMAT Teams of Two Runners (male / female / mixed)
Stage One: Date: Saturday 19 March 2022

Start Venue: Houw Hoek Hotel

Finish Venue: Paul Cluver Wines

Distance:  +-24km

Total Ascent: 800m

Stage Two: Date: Sunday 20 March 2022

Start Venue: Cape Canopy Tours

Finish Venue: Houw Hoek Hotel

Distance: +-32km

Total Ascent: 920m

Stage Three: Date: Monday 21 March 2022

Start Venue: Houw Hoek Hotel

Finish Venue: Houw Hoek Hotel

Distance: +-18km

Total Ascent: 720m


The 2022 event entry fee included the following:

  • First Ascent AFRICANX Garment
  • Finisher Tshirt
  • Finisher Medal
  • THIRSTI Refreshment Zone
  • Well stocked water points and spectacular route Experiences
  • Evening Prize Giving and Entertainment


ENTERTAINMENT: In addition to experiencing the most incredible routes on offer in the Overberg, trail runners were treated to a host of fun activities including a Marimba Band performance, Wine Tastings, a Pasta Party, Bingo and Popcorn, Fire Drums and S’mores, a Slippery Slide, Bavaria Beer Mile, Pool Party, Dress Up Day, Bavaria Beer Garden and a Putt Putt Competition.


Follow us on Facebook:  @ThirstiWater / @runtheafricanx / @stillwatertrail

Follow us on Instagram:  @thirstiwater / @runtheAFRICANX / @stillwater_trail_running



For additional information on the THIRSTI AFRICANX TRAILRUN 3-Day, 2-Day and/or 1-Day events please visit www.stillwatersports.com, contact Stillwater Sports on 082 991 0045 or email entries@stillwatersports.com.


More about THIRSTI:

THIRSTI is a uniquely sourced natural spring water that is rich in minerals and sourced from two extraordinary locations. Its primary bottling plant was founded in 2015 at a Normandien farm in the foothills of the Klein Drakensberg mountains. In 2021, THIRSTI expanded operations into the mountain basin of Tulbagh, surrounded by exquisite mountains and drained by the Klein Berg River and its tributaries. Each source has its own state-of-the-art bottling plant where the water is filtered, tested and bottled, ready to be enjoyed by consumers. The THIRSTI product range includes Natural Spring Water, Sparkling Water, Sparkling Flavoured Water and an iconic sports drink, THIRSTI ISOFIT+. The South African brand proudly partners with the Springboks, Absa Cape Epic, Comrades Marathon, Blue Bulls Company, Sharks Rugby, THIRSTI AFRICANX TRAILRUN series of events and the Nedbank Running Club. 

For more information about THIRSTI, please visit www.thirsti.co.za

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