Television and radio personality, Liezel van der Westhuizen, says sport is in her blood. This sports-mad South African has competed in seven canoe races this year, including the toughest canoe marathon in the world.
Now, despite injury setbacks, Liezel will attempt the Old Mutual Two Oceans half-marathon this Easter Saturday.
“I was meant to run the Two Oceans (Ultra) Marathon, but due to an injury after The Unlimited Dusi I wasn’t able to train, so I decided to do the 21km and next year I will be doing the 56km. Comrades is something I’m thinking about.”
It has been a pretty busy year for Liezel and she is enjoying every minute of it, participating in as many events as is humanly possible, and is proud that all her sporting events have a community or charity element to them.
“This year I’ve done seven canoe races including the toughest canoe marathon in the world – The Unlimited Dusi, where I raised funds for the Unlimited Child and the SPCA. I also competed in the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour, and raised 25 bicycles for Velokhaya life cycling academy.
“I also entered a team triathlon, and as I was on crutches with a sprained ankle, I did the swim leg of the race for Team Rehydrate. Last weekend I was in Bela Bela to do the Bosveld Mile Swim. So to answer your question, I’ve only done ten events this year,” laughs Liezel.
So, what have been Liezel’s greatest sporting achievements to date?
“The ultimate one day endurance race – The Ironman – which comprises of a 3.8km swim; 180km cycle and a 42.2km run, all to be completed in 17 hours. The Unlimited Dusi is the most amazing thing I did this year with only nine weeks of training,” says Liezel.
There is no stopping Liezel, who has confirmed her participating in a host of races, including the Breede River Canoe Marathon, Fish River Canoe Marathon, MTN Amashova Cycle Race, and 94.7 Cycle Challenge.
Liezel has always been sporty, saying her parents always encouraged them as a family to be active.
She recalls: “We used to go on hiking holidays together growing up. My parents taught us the fun side of sport and encouraged us to try many different types of sporting activities. At school I played tennis; squash; netball, hockey and even did synchronised swimming.”
“My dad started running at the age of 60 and did his first ultra at 65, and he encouraged my whole family (mom and sister) to take up road running. My first run was at the age of 16. It was a 10km run at Pretoria Central Prison.”
Her message to people running the Two Oceans for the first time is to just enjoy themselves. “It’s my first time as well. My dad’s advice to me this morning was to remember to keep hydrate and not to change anything on race day.”
For those who are still searching for the inspiration to get out and get fit?
Liezel says: “Find a fun event in your community to take part in, whether it’s a 5km fun walk or fun run. Find a friend to do it with you, and just go out and have fun. Even start with ten minutes of exercise a day. You can watch Expresso in the mornings at 6:15 (SABC 3), we host an easy 10-minute home work out to get you started. Have fun and keep smiling through any sporting activity you do.”
Follow Liezel on twitter to find out more about her love for sport – @liezelv.