Carla van Huyssteen interview

Meet Carla van Huyssteen - physiotherapist, multisport athlete, and casual surfer. She has added trail running blitz to that list during 2017, blazing podiums all over South Africa. Inspired by her Springbok dad, Carla is determined to stay as fit and strong as she can, for as long as possible.

Carla van Huyssteen featured TRAIL 26 shot by Anthony Grote
photo Anthony Grote

TRAIL 26 cover athlete Carla van Huyssteen claims to be a born sprinter. But her domination of the Mountain Challenge Series in the Cape, and podium at her first-ever Otter African Trail Run, betrays delight in hours spent running.

Carla van Huyssteen fact box TRAIL 26I have an adventurous spirit, a compassionate soul,” says Carla.

Life is too short for one sport, but 2017 was Carla van Huyssteen’s year of trails. Beginning in provincial hockey, and spanning obstacle course racing, internationally competitive triathlon, and mountain biking, her life has lead her to trail race podiums all over South Africa.

Get to know this busy ultrarunner in her own words…

Carla van Huyssteen first race preschool TRAIL 26The journey begins

“As with most runners, running is something we grew up doing, whether pure running or within other sports.

My father, Gerrie Germishuys, has always been an inspiration to me.

He was a rugby Springbok, so I aspired to represent my country in sport too. He and my mother never put any pressure on me to perform but instilled a value system of ‘hard work pays off’ and ‘failing is not the end of the world, but part of the process.’

My father could do a back flip and perfect hand-stands into his late 50s and I aspire to be as fit and active as him!

I am definitely more of a born sprinter than an endurance runner. I only really got into running longer distances after school (following a decade of provincial hockey) when I got roped into doing a sprint triathlon with some hockey friends.

The bug bit and I focused all my attention on multisport.

Carla van Huyssteen’s shingles knock

I started working at EAP Active as a physiotherapist in 2016, but I got shingles that October and had to rest as my body was just too stressed.

After a two month break I had to start training from scratch. Even running 5km was painful and slow. I had to take multiple walk breaks.

That’s when I joined the Velocity Sports Lab Hilton and they introduced me to Tim Ellerbeck, who is currently my coach and has been giving me guidance throughout 2017.

Carla van Huyssteen races sponsors TRAIL 26 by Anthony GroteIn 2017 I decided to focus on trail running rather than multisport, due to time constraints. I’d gone back to physiotherapy after taking a sabbatical to race full-time.

I also made the decision because our country has so many beautiful venues to run. There are more than enough races to keep me motivated, so it was quite an easy transition.

I decided to take on a few more challenging races to keep me motivated to train (even after a long work day) otherwise it is so easy to just get busy and stop training all together.

Carla van Huyssteen husband Dreyer TRAIL 26The KZN trail running scene is growing and it is exciting to be part of it!

Gratitude attitude

I am thankful that I have been blessed! I have worked with incredible coaches and training groups, had the opportunity to race for different brands and teams, stayed with multiple families all over the world, and travelled with other pro athletes on racing stints in Europe.

All of them played such an incredible role in this journey I have had the last 12 years. They made it possible to train and race my heart out.

I appreciate my loving and supportive husband without whom this journey would have never happened!

I feel blessed that I have experienced so much in my life as an athlete.

For Carla van Huyssteen’s triathlon glory days, her move from Pretoria to Hilton (KZN), how her physiotherapy interacts with her sport, and insight from her coach, read the full interview on page 36 of TRAIL 26.

Keep up with her on Twitter.

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