Change a Life Academy Media Release  No: CAL1807

 30 Nov 2018

 Embargo: None  Written by: Nick Tatham

Merchants CAL Warriors finish the year strong

Durban – The Merchants Change a Life Academy Warrior Racing team finished 2018 on a high when they took part in the final Toyota Warrior Race of the year in Soweto with their athletes showing the vast gains they have made this season.

The final race of the calendar saw athletes take on an urban-based Black Ops Elite course that was slightly shorter in distance than the traditional courses but did not skimp on the difficulty of the obstacles.

The Merchants CAL team consisted of 12 athletes across the two events with seven taking on the Black Ops and five the Commando Elite.

With the who’s who of South African Warrior Racing in attendance Hlelani Radebe, who represented South Africa at the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships earlier this year, finished in fourth place overall.

“The course was described as challenging, bordering on brutal,” academy founder Martin Dreyer said.

“Against the top racers in the country they did well. Hlelani finished in the top five and Dumisani Shabalala finished in tenth overall in the Black Ops Elite.

“To see how far the guys have come from not finishing their first Black Ops Elite race is brilliant. They say that a normal person would have to train for a year to finish a Black Ops Elite race.”

Not only have the athletes at the top end of Dreyer’s team improved throughout the year, but there has been an influx of new blood into the squad and they took part in the Commando Elite – the course a level down from the Black Ops.

Young Sphesihle Hlengwa finished fifth overall and won the 16-18 age category in the Commando Elite race, while in the 13-15 age category Ayanda Malevu finished tenth overall and first in his age group.

“This is the next generation coming through and they are also improving.

“Puseletso Dladla is the only girl that is part of the team and she completed the Commando Elite this past weekend and learnt a lot.

“Racing is definitely a level up from what they experience during training so it is encouraging to see so much potential when they race,” Dreyer mentioned.

The results from the younger athletes encourages Dreyer and he hopes that with the improvements that have been made at their base at Nagle Dam the progression will continue.

“We have, with the help of Claude and Trish Eksteen, some volunteers and the Merchants athletes, built an obstacle course in the valley.

“It is called Mtshebheni and we are grateful to those people that helped in putting the whole thing together.

“This allows the guys to train in a way that is similar to their racing and exposes the younger children to the sport of obstacle course racing,” Dreyer emphasised

For Dreyer’s Merchants Academy the Warrior Racing series was a natural progression from trail running as it challenged the athletes, pushing theirs limits which is what I want and the Academy is all about

“To finish a Warrior Race takes discipline and preparation – it empowers the individual.

“The guys get home from a race and they have real respect in the valley because people know the amount of dedication that goes into finishing a Warrior race” Dreyer explained.


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Young Merchants Change a Life athlete Hlelani Radebe returned from his eight position in the 25-29 age category at the Obstacle Racing World Championships, to claim fourth overall at the final race of the Toyota Warrior Race Series in Soweto recently. Supplied/
Gameplan Media

Merchants Change a Life athletes (from left): Mxolisi Zondi (Black-Ops Elite), Puseletso Dladla (Commando Elite) and Dumisani Shabalala (Black-Ops Elite) all took part in the final race of the Toyota Warrior Race series in Soweto recently. Supplied/
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