Hometown: Johannesburg

Favourite K-Way Products: K-Way EVO Gearbag

Quote to Live by: “Climb mountains, not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.”

Trail star and K-Way athlete Nicolette Griffieon not only loves trail running, she’s also passionate about the outdoors. She even lives surrounded by nature – home is the Oori Nature Reserve near Lanseria in northern Gauteng.

“Think open grasslands of the Cradle of Mankind, and the dry dusty trails of the Magaliesberg, and you have the prettiest parts of the Highveld. I’m fortunate to have spent the past 16 years of my life here, so it will forever feel home.”

Nicolette blasted onto the South African trail running stage in 2014 when she won the 100km Ultra-Trail Cape Town. She continued her winning streak through 2015 with numerous victories, including the Ultra Trail Mount Moodie (87km), achieving both the SA long distance champion 2015 and SA ultra trail champion 2015 titles respectively. Later that year she represented South Africa in the IAU World Ultra Trail Champs (85km) in Annecy, France, achieving a top 25 finish as first South African female finisher. Some weeks later she competed at the Festival Les Templiers (75km) in France for the SA team and finished in 6th place.

The following year saw Nicolette winning the 2016 SA ultra-distance champs at the Hout Bay Ultra Challenge (68km), qualifying her again for the SA team, this time for the Long Distance Mountain Running World Champs (42km) in Slovenia, where she finished 5th woman and first SA finisher. Just a few months later she won the gruelling 100km Skyrun (and remains the women’s record holder).

A 5th year veterinary science student, Nicolette has to juggle her running with studying – a fine balance that this year turned up a notch when she began the 18-month practical component of her degree, working in various departments of the public veterinary hospital on the Onderstepoort campus.

Gentle and quietly strong, Nicolette is modest yet matter of fact about her running talent. She started running during Matric, taking 3km runs around the block to break from her studies. A year later she ran her first race, a 10km trail run in the Magaliesberg – she finished 3rd, and the trail bug bit!

More heartfelt about the nature of the trail than the distance, Nicolette loves challenges between 40km and 100km, and the more mountainous and technical, the better.

“My favourite local trail for training is a specific network of paths at Van Gaalens in the Magaliesberg. I’ve managed to link together a few trails so I can get decent elevation over a short distance, with most of it on technical single-track.”

Nicolette sees the highlight of her trail running career so far as her 5th place at the world champs in Slovenia. “This was the race that really opened my eyes to the possibility of my being competitive on an international scale if I decide to do so,” she says.

One of the things Nicolette loves about being a K-Way athlete is being part of a brand and team that is truly South African.

“K-Way is not an elitist brand, but rather one for the people. Affordably quality in outdoor gear and apparel is what people need to grow a passion for nature, the environment, conservation and eco-awareness in South Africa. I’m passionate about these things, and being a part of K-Way enables me to help promote love for outdoor activities in our beautiful country.”

“K-Way really lives up to its motto: gearing up and getting out. That’s the way I live too. It’s important to show people that trail running, and even actual races, are not about winning, but rather about the journey, and about experiences shared with friends and family.”

True to heart, Nicolette’s greatest inspiration is her dog, Dobby. “I doubt there can be a purer love for running than Dobby’s. Even in her golden years, she lives for her sunset run, no matter how short or slow. That’s the true spirit of running to which I aspire.”

Nicolette’s top tip to those training for a big race: consistency. “Whatever training plan you choose, have the dedication to see it through properly.”

Nicolette Griffioen is on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram