Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon announces partnership changes

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Estienne and Nadia Arndt to hand over reigns to Hano and Sonja Otto in new agreement with original partner, Simon Kelly

South Africa, 15 December 2016 – Estienne and Nadia Arndt, Race Director and Manager of the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) respectively, have ended their partnership in the 250km, multi-stage extreme event, known as the “Big Daddy” of ultra-trail marathons. Taking over from them are Hano and Sonja Otto, both respected athletes and successful sport event organisers. Simon Kelly who, with Estienne and Nadia Arndt founded the distinguished event in 2000, stays on as the third partner.

Under the leadership of the three original partners, this challenging and grueling foot race through the spectacular Kalahari Desert has become one of the most prestigious events on the international extreme sports calendar. Owing to health reasons, the Arndts had to make the difficult decision to withdraw their involvement in KAEM, and the big question was who should follow in their footsteps. Their choice however was an obvious one.

Hano and Sonja Otto is a formidable team with extensive experience as event managers in the sporting world. The couple started their first events management company in 2001 with a focus on adventure racing events that included the African qualifier for the AR World Championships, an event that hosted international teams from different countries competing. In 2010, the couple established TriSport SA with the aim to organise triathlon, trail running and mountain biking events. With events such as the Southern Cross (SOX) 3 Day Trail Run, the Oyster Catcher Trail Runs and the Namaqua Quest Stage Trail Run & Mountain Biking, this company has certainly made its mark and is recognised as one of the top in its market sector.

“Hano and Sonja are perfectly suited to take over the partnership and responsibilities from Nadia and myself. Like us, they have adventure running in their blood. During the past 2016 event Hano was part of the KAEM crew and on the route every day, doing check point management and getting a feel for the demands of the event from the runners’ point of view. He is a people’s person, a sports man and an excellent organiser. With Sonja’s professional reputation in all facets of extreme sport and events organising, we couldn’t have found better successors. We are confident that KAEM will continue to develop and thrive in the years to come,” says Estienne.

Prior to starting their first company, both Hano and Sonja were top athletes in their respective sporting domains. The couple met on the South African adventure racing team that participated in the Borneo Eco Challenge Race in 2000. Hano comes from a running background where he achieved accolades in a number of ultra-marathons such as Comrades, Karoo 80 and Rhodes Ultra Mountain marathon. As an elite long distance triathlon South African champion, Sonja competed professionally for eight years in various international events including six Iron Man competitions.

“Being offered the opportunity to continue the legacy of the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon is for us a ‘dream come true’. Estienne, Nadia and Simon have worked extremely hard to establish this sporting brand as one of the top three self-sufficient multi-stage events in the world.  They have not only succeeded in doing that, they have also established a legacy that is unique to KAEM,” says Hano. “Personally I am passionate about the Kalahari, having shed many hours of sweat in the red sand, participating in adventure racing. Taking the KAEM brand forward is an exciting new adventure that gets the adrenaline flowing strong!”

Over the past 17 years the trio, Estienne, Nadia and Simon, has developed a unique event in a special spot that has touched the lives of many. KAEM offers both avid and first-time trail runners a real adventure. The Kalahari is not an aloof onlooker. The space takes you and makes you its own. Around the KAEM has sprung up a family of runners and crew who are called to return to the wide open spaces of the desert again and again, whether to take on the challenge of the event as a participant, or to be there as critical support – 25% of runners are repeat participants and of those approximately 80% are multiple repeaters.

KAEM exacts extreme commitment for an extreme experience: 250 km multi-stage event where the Kalahari Desert challenges your endurance. Get your registration in on 16 January for KAEM 2017. Event date: 26 October to 5 November.

Images are available on request. Please contact Simoné du Plooy at 083 709 8170 or simoneduplooy@gmail.com.

For an interview with past Race Director Estienne Arndt and/or new Race Director Hano Otto, please contact Simoné du Plooy at 083 709 8170 or simone@kaem.co.za.

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