Updated: January 12, 2016


Ryan Sandes is ready to make his comeback to top-flight racing (Photo credit: Kolesky/Red Bull Content Pool)

Having shaken off the after-effects of illness last year, Ryan Sandes is looking forward to his first two races of the season in New Zealand over the next few weeks.
Sandes said on Tuesday he would compete at the 160km Red Bull Defiance multi-sport endurance race in Wanaka on January 23 and 24.
He was set to pair up with fellow South African Bianca Haw, competing in her first event as a senior athlete, in the mixed elite category.
“I am really looking forward to mixing up sporting disciplines and taking part in Red Bull Defiance,” Sandes said.
“The course looks really tough with some very big climbs on the run and mountain bike, and I can’t say I have much experience at paddling down rivers.
“Luckily I am racing in a mixed team with Bianca Haw who is super strong on the mountain bike and a really experienced paddler.
“It is going to be an awesome experience.”
The Defiance race, which involves 100 two-person teams, includes trail running, mountain biking and kayaking, with additional special stage activities requiring such skills as abseiling and clay pigeon shooting.
Less than two weeks later, Sandes said he would turn out in his first competitive trail run of 2016 at the eighth annual 100km Tarawera ultra-marathon in Bay of Plenty on February 6.
Organisers expected 1 260 participants, including nearly 400 international entrants and many of the world’s top trail ultra-runners.
Sandes, who had a superb 2014 campaign when he finished second in the gruelling Ultra Trail World Tour series, was sidelined for six months last year with glandular fever and struggled to mount a comeback later in the season.
He was eager to bounce back, however, at the picturesque annual race.
“I have wanted to run the Tarawera ultra for a few years now and have heard nothing but great things about the race,” Sandes said.
“The race route looks relatively flat and really fast, which I think is the perfect early season preparation for the rest of my racing season.
“I am super excited to experience New Zealand and its amazing people.”