Shezi looking for six of the best at Euro Steel Run the Rivers

Shezi looking for six of the best at Euro Steel Run the Rivers

Underberg – Phillip Shezi is raring to go in the weekend’s Euro Steel Run The Rivers trail run in Underberg, an event he has won five times and looks set to dominate once again.

The 40-year-old who works as a tractor driver on a farm in Donnybrook, enjoys the privilege of a free entry into the men’s race as defending champion and with him in the field, it’s looks like a case of who will come second, such is his prowess in taming the two-day event.

Starting and finishing at The Olde Duck on Saturday and Sunday, the first day is 21km, followed by 18km for a total of 39 challenging but beautiful off-road kilometres.

Last year, Shezi let it be known that he was not fit but he still won at a canter. This year, he is not holding back, making him the clear favourite to lead the men’s field home. “I want to win again and am ready for the race,” he said. “I train every day before and after work, running long distances of 20km to 25km.”

Shezi is no stranger to spending time pounding the roads and hills surrounding the Southern Drakensberg as he earned his Green Number, his number in perpetuity, at last year’s Comrades Marathon, for completing 10 runs.

He has an impressive record of eight silver medals for finishing in under seven-and-a-half hours at the Comrades and two Bill Rowan medals for finishing between seven-and-a-half and nine hours. His best time is a more than credible 6:15 for 2012’s down run.

“I enjoy the Comrades but prefer the down run. My times on the down run are good. I find the up run difficult with too much up hill,” he said. “I am preparing for this year’s Comrades which is an up run where I want to finish with another silver medal, under six-and-a-half hours. I will have to work hard but I think I will have a good run with the training I am doing. I am getting used to running far.”

And what is Shezi’s secret to his success in the Euro Steel Run the Rivers race? While most athletes keep a sharp eye on their diet, supplements and liquid intake, Shezi sticks to one of his traditional staple diets, good old mielie meal or phutu.

“I don’t use supplements or powder. I stopped because I developed a kidney problem,” said Shezi. “Mielie meal gives me strength and power and it is what my body is used to.”

Perhaps any title contenders in the weekend’s men’s race would do well to give Shezi’s strength providing fuel a try. It looks to be the only way they will have any chance of being a threat to the flying trail runner.

Online entries have closed but late entries will be accepted at race registration on Friday at The Olde Duck, however, late entries are not guaranteed a shirt or seeding.

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