GAUTENG, MIDRAND- Attracting close to three thousand athletes, and a couple thousand onlookers, the 2018 season opener of the hugely popular obstacle course racing (OCR) series, the Toyota WARRIOR Series, powered by Reebok, was off to the perfect start this past weekend at Riversands Country Farm in Johannesburg.
The OCR Toyota WARRIOR series is designed for adventure seekers from all walks of life, and, with no barrier to entry, makes obstacle course racing (OCR) accessible to anyone with a pair of trainers, t-shirt and shorts.
Course designer, Jono Hart, says Toyota WARRIOR 2018 will be the best year yet for OCR. “I build these courses to allow ordinary people to start somewhere and build themselves into who they want to be. None of the obstacles are easy but they are all manageable depending on your fitness level. Black Ops is an absolute monster. These men and women are at the top of their game.”
With three categories on offer, Rookie, Commando, and Black Ops, the Toyota WARRIOR races have something for everyone who wish to have fun and challenge themselves across world-class obstacles.
The Rookie, the shortest and easiest race, is all about fun and comradery – a wonderful opportunity to have real fun with your friends and colleagues. For those seeking a greater challenge, the Commando offers a greater test of physical and mental ability. The most difficult challenge is the Black Ops – the ultimate test of endurance, speed, strength and agility.
The main event of the day was Black Ops Elite. This tough course incorporates 35 obstacles over roughly 15 kilometres of trail. These athletes are either climbing, traversing, carrying or gripping from start to finish. It is intense and only the super-fit and trained make it to the end.
Winner and ranked 2nd in OCR South Africa, Thomas van Tonder (Jeep Team SA) won the men’s race; the Women 2017 Series winner and #1 ranked female in OCR, Trish Eksteen (AOT) won the women’s race. Trish Eksteen came 4th overall, an indication of her strength and speed in this sport.
In addition to the honours and the R10 000 prize purse, these two athletes each got to drive home in a WARRIOR-branded Toyota RAV4 – theirs to drive until the next event in Bloemfontein on the 17th of February.
The men’s Black Ops Elite was initially a close fought race between South Africa’s top 3 OCR athletes, Bradley Claase, Thomas van Tonder, and 2017 series winner, Claude Eksteen.
The toughest obstacle in the race, Breaking Point, proved to be exactly this as it defeated Eksteen, who eventually finished 34th overall, and Van Tonder, a three-time Top 10-finisher at the OCR World Champs, calmly pulled off a superb win ahead of Claase in second and Jason Friedman in third.
Says van Tonder, “Today, level-headed strategy beat bullish endeavour, which would be my normal stance. I took a good breather before starting on Breaking Point and this was my saving grace. I ran my own race and it paid off. I am absolutely blessed to take home the win in the first Toyota WARRIOR Race of 2018. I had to dig deep today, mentally, as it was a very tough race.”
In the women’s race, 2017 series winner, Trish Eksteen, showed her racing prowess, taking the win ahead of Carla van Huyssteen in second and Nedene Cahill in third. What makes their achievement even more impressive is that the top 3 women all finished in the top 10 overall.
Another interesting fact is that both Van Huyssteen and Cahill have made their mark in other sporting disciplines. Van Huyssteen is an accomplished trail runner with many stage and ultra-trail podiums under her belt, and Cahill is an ex-MTB XCO SA and World Champion. The cream always rises to the top.
“These women are really strong. Everyone forgets how hard these obstacles are and yet, year after year the women get stronger and stronger and get through the obstacles with more ease. Well done to Trish. She is an amazing athlete, and I hope I can learn a lot from her coming into the next few races,” concludes van Huyssteen.
Race 2 of the 2018 Toyota WARRIOR Race, powered by Reebok, takes place on 17 February in Bloemfontein, Free State, and promises to be equally impressive.
Says Hennie Scheepers, co-owner of the Warrior Series and race organiser, “This is the Free State’s first Toyota WARRIOR and we are super excited to meet new warriors. The Free State has always produced strong, sporty individuals, so we are really looking forward to seeing them in action.”
Results – Toyota Warrior #1
Black Ops Elite
1. Thomas van Tonder 01:23:10
2. Bradley Claase 01:24:45
3. Jason Friedman 01:29:51
1. Trish Eksteen 01:31:01
2. Carla van Huyssteen 01:34:01
3. Nedene Cahill 01:34:55
1. Kelvin van Wyk 00:50:29
2. Conrad Herbst 00:53:02
3. Calen Hastie 00:53:29
1. Sammy Nel 01:10:15
2. Sam Ryder 01:12:24
3. Tarryn Butler 01:13:16
1. Nick Oberholzer 00:36:45
2. Simeon de Bruyn 00:37:03
3. Jasper Mutsindikwa 00:37:16
1. Tumi Matlou 00:45:11
2. Monique Els 00:46:15
3. Megan van Tonder 00:49:15