Reilly and Rupanga rule day one of AfricanX | SASCOC - SASCOC

Reilly and Rupanga rule day one of AfricanX

By Mark Etheridge

Kane Reilly and Nicholas Rupanga led home a record field in the first day of the gruelling ProNutro AficanX Trail run in Grabouw on Friday.

The Team Salomon duo set a blistering pace during Stage One of the much anticipated event, presented by New Balance, that featured both Olympians and Comrades Marathon winners.

The duo covered the out and back event in a time of 2hr 15min 46sec. But in a quality field such as that assembled for AfricanX they were still only able to bank an 11sec lead after the first day.

And Reilly is well aware that Saturday’s day is the toughest that faces the field. “Yes, we had a good day but its early days as well.”

Said Rupanga, the older of the two. “I’m the more experienced but there are definitely two long days to go before the winner is announced.

Second on the day was defending champion Michael Bailey with new partner Ben Brimble.

Women’s winners were Kathleen Shuttleworth and Ronel Nattrass. The Team Mizuno couple crossed the finish line at the Houw Hoek Inn in 2:45.28.

Shuttleworth, along with Nicole Marais, won last year’s edition of the event and this is the first time that her and Nattrass have teamed up. “But we’re pretty much the same pace. I may be slightly stronger and quicker but we work well as a team.

“Of the three AfricanX events I’ve run (she ran in 2009 and last year) this is definitely the least challenging first day,” said the Varsity Old Boys running club coach.

Runners-up in the women’s division were Theresa Fourie (nee Du Toit), a former national road runner, and Belinda Noades of Team Columbia.

Also in the mix were multiple Comrades Marathon winner Bruce Fordyce, who was running the veteran category along with Mount Everest conqueror Sibusiso Vilane.

And bringing an Olympic flavour to the event were former Team South Africa track runner Gwen van Lingen and husband Lawrence, who won the mixed veteran category.

Saturday’s stage is the longest, at 33km, and most challenging, starting at Sir Lowry’s Village and summiting the old Gantouw Pass above Sir Lowry’s Pass before finishing at the Oude Molen Distillery.