Potch OCR athlete flying the SA flag high in Europe

Armin Botha flying the flag high for SA in Europe in the OCR String Viking series.
Armin Botha flying the flag high for SA in Europe in the OCR String Viking series.

Local obstacle course racing (OCR) athlete, Armin Botha, is quickly becoming the next big thing after a string of victories and top 5 positions on the elite European OCR circuit.
This motivated, humble athlete captured everyone’s attention at the recent Fisherman’s Friend StrongmanRun at the famous Nürburgring race track in Germany where he took first place in the 24-kilometre race in a time of 1 hour and 54 minutes.
A few days earlier, he also made his mark in a race that he originally never planned for when he took fourth place as an unseeded participant in the world-renowned Strong Viking OCR Race.

Armin Botha in action during the Strong Viking race in Amsrerdam where he took first place. Photo: Rosorignal Photography

Armin Botha in action during the Strong Viking race in Amsrerdam where he took first place. Photo: Rosorignal Photography

Armin Botha slides down one of the obstacles in the Strong Viking OCR Race. Photo: Rosoriginal Photography

Armin Botha slides down one of the obstacles in the Strong Viking OCR Race. Photo: Rosoriginal Photography

‘I believe everything happens for a reason. A day prior to me flying to Netherlands, my coach (Jean Verster) and I found out that the Fisherman’s Friend StrongmanRun in Rotterdam had been cancelled because the race village had burnt down. The organisers in Europe gave me an alternative race (Strong Viking) to compete in, and, with the fourth place, I could qualify for the Strong Viking World Finals in Nijmegen, Netherlands on 23 June,’ said Botha, who is pumped up to achieve a medal position in this upcoming international race.

Armin Botha scales another obstacle in his path

Armin Botha scales another obstacle in his path. Photo: Sportograf.com

Armin Botha has an intense passion and love for Obstacle Course Racing
Botha’s journey began in Potchefstroom under the tutelage of Verster and the well-known local OCR athlete, Willem Erasmus. ‘In 2017, I started doing OCR races and gradually moved up to the most challenging levels locally. I took the third place in the local Warrior Race Black Ops Elite division this year and then competed in a couple of other races. I qualified for the European leg of the StrongmanRun when I took first place in the local edition in Paarl last year.’
According to Botha, the hype around OCR racing is absolutely massive in Europe and competing against top-level athletes has given him the confidence to keep pushing hard.

‘In Europe, the emphasis is on running with different kinds of obstacles. For example, in European races, mostly, obstacles require a lot of climbing and crawling under electrical wires that shock the living daylights out of you. There is definitely an emphasis on a fun, festive atmosphere which, in turn, attracts over 10 000 competitors.’

Armin Botha and his training partner, Willem Erasmus

Armin Botha and his training partner, Willem Erasmus

Botha feels his success in Europe can be attributed to his strength and endurance when running and his training regimen under the Potchefstroom Track Club.

‘Jean (Verster) and Willem (Erasmus) have been absolutely fantastic with their training and getting the balance right between running and obstacles. I also train at Black Ops Fitness to improve my obstacle skills. I have always been a good runner through my background as a track athlete and Willem has helped my progress in the obstacles.

The psychological preparation before a race is also vital. I like to visualise a race beforehand and to be as calm as possible. It is all paying off now with some great results.’

*Botha and Erasmus also have their sights set on the OCR World Championships in London from 19 to 21 October and are looking for sponsorship.
If anyone would like to support these two Potch Track Club athletes, contact Armin Botha on 079 886 6993.

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  AUTHOR
Wouter Pienaar
Sport Journalist

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