Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon announces partnership changes


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.

About The Author

Recent Posts

The Western and Southern Cape have been hit by severe storms this week and due to the extreme weather conditions continuing over the weekend of 10 June, we were forced to postpone the Oyster Catcher Ultra to 18 November 2017. Winds of between 50 ̶ 100km/h are predicted from the north-west and as our athletes’
TriSport hosts Bike Girl 2 Day MTB
TriSport has spotted a gap in the market for female-only outdoor recreational events and has enjoyed great success with its Trail Girl and MTBike Girl events, and over the weekend of 20 and 21 May, they hosted another one of these popular events. The renowned Simola Hotel and Spa was the venue for this year’s
Pondo Drifter Trail Run 2017
Transkei, Wild Coast, Pondoland, what does the mind’s eye conjure up when it hears these words? Massive cliffs, rough seas, friendly locals, and pristine beaches, or possibly ocean-going cows, colourful rondavels pock marking the landscape or children screaming “SWEATIE, SWEATIE!”? Yes, the Transkei is undeniably and incredibly unique for a number of reasons and by
TriSport hosts another successful Trail Girl event in Wilderness, South Africa
The weekend of 8 and 9 April was a girls only weekend like no other! Ladies from as far as Limpopo and even Namibia joined the TriSport team for a fun weekend of trail running where runners could let down their hair, laugh, shout, cry, and just be themselves while enjoying the pristine trails of
Trans Outeniqua 5 Day MTB Tour : Autumn
I can honestly say that I the 5 days spent with Sonja and Hano and the other riders were a highlight of my cycling adventures and I have had many. I have been lucky enough to ride across the country in bike races such as Cape Pioneer, Epic, Joburg2c, Sani2c, Dr Evil Classic and some
Trans Outeniqua 3 Day MTB Tour
It is with great pleasure that we give feedback on the past 3-day-Outeniqua trial arranged by Tri-sport 17-19 Feb 2017. Firstly, we would like to congratulate Hanno and Sonja together with their team for a well organised most enjoyable, very tough J tour, through one of the most beautiful scenery and mountains in our country.

Contact Info


Phone:    +27 (0) 83 662 2022
Email:     admin@trisport.co.za
Postal Address:
Po Box 1232
Greatbrak River

Privacy Policy

This Privacy Policy governs the manner in which TriSport SA collects, uses, maintains and discloses information collected from users... >> read more

Terms & Conditions

View our Terms & Conditions here... >> read more