washer

After retaining his title at Red Bull LionHeart on Saturday, K-Way athlete AJ Calitz is ready for this weekend’s 100-kilometre Salomon Skyrun.

On Saturday, Calitz powered up and down Cape Town’s Lion’s Head during the prologue, heats and final to take overall honours – again. Set off in groups, Calitz enjoyed doubling-back on the route for the descent, which gave him a chance to see the gap gained on his rivals. He broke the record that he set last year to record a time of 26:46 for the 3.7-kilometre up-and-down route.

“I prefer working hard up and taking fewer risks down.” he says. “And yes, I pretty much go all out to the top.”

AJ Calitz

AJ tames the Lion Pic: Brett Nattrass

With Skyrun only days away, Calitz doesn’t expect to feel the effects of Red Bull LionHeart in his legs.

“With the amount of mountain training that I do, it shouldn’t affect me,” he says.

Calitz is a Skyrun novice and he goes into this self-supported, mountain ultra not knowing the route; he’s up against runners with experience of the Witteberg mountains.

Although the route is unmarked, competitors may run with GPS units to guide them to the well-known checkpoints at Olympus, Snowden, Avoca (the highest peak at 2,756m), Skidaw and Balloch. As the front runners will be up and over Balloch Wall before sunset, they’ll have the advantage of daylight to navigate the Bridal Pass, which takes them back on to the ridgeline. With more than 70-kilometres covered by this stage, they’ll have less than 30-kilometres to the finish at the Wartrail Country Club.

But there’s also more to the route than just hitting the remote mountain checkpoints and following ridgeline tracks. Some path options are more efficient than others and taking the wrong left or right route around a peak could cost unknowing contenders big chunks of time.

“I’m feeling pretty unprepared as far as the route goes,” Calitz says. “Luckily there are some guys racing who know the route very well so I’ll be hoping to stay with them.”

If Calitz’s race-winning and record-smashing track record is anything to go by, the guys racing would do well to stay with him.

The course record stands at 12h36, which was set in 2012 by Ryan Sandes. He took more than two hours off the previous record, which was set by fellow South African trail runner Iain Don-Wauchope in 2010.

To keep an eye on the race, follow Pure Adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@pureadventures) and also follow K-Way’s Facebook page (/kwaysa) for news of Calitz.

The first South Africa Skymarathon®, which debuts on October 26 at Matroosberg Private Reserve in the Western Cape, has attracted the cream of the crop.

Matroosberg Trail ChallengeAJ Calitz, one of the country’s top trail runners, takes off as firm favourite, but will certainly not have things all his own way – other strong performers pose a stern challenge.

Calitz, a relative newcomer to trail running, has taken the sport by storm with several victories and new records including Puffer, Three Peaks Challenge and the Red Bull Lion Heart. He also triumphed in a 100km trail run in Verdon, in the Provencal district of France and last month finished third in a super strong field at The Otter, finishing inside the existing record.

Included in the chasing pack are SA Ultra Distance Champion and former Puffer winner Nic de Beer, SA trail team member Charl Souma and top local trail specialists, Noel Erntzen, Derrick Baard and Ake Fagereng. Last year’s winner, Michael Owen attempts a repeat.

The women’s event appears no less competitive with some serious talent looking to conquer the tough 36km course. Leading the field will be the experienced Linda Doke, adventure racer and 2013 Bat Run winner Annemien Ganzevoort, and Robyn Kime, 4x Dusi Canoe Champ and a rising star in trail running. Ingrid Peens, last year’s champion, will also line up at the start.

A Skymarathon® is a mountain race with a minimum of 2 000m in total elevation gain and between 30km – 42km over paths, trail, moraine, rock or snow; total asphalt must be less than 15% of the course.

“Skyrunning is hugely popular overseas, particularly in Europe,” says race director Ghaleed Nortje. “The Matroosberg is a perfect venue, with aSkymarathon summit at 2 249m, spectacular views, tough ascents and technical descents.”

Sponsors on board include VIVOBAREFOOT, Adventure Inc, Wintergreen, Protect, K-Way, Red Bull and Bio-oil; but Nortje seeks a title sponsor.

“There are many costs involved for such an event and we consider this is an outstanding opportunity for sponsors to become linked to Skyrunning; the sport, making its debut in Africa, will be massive here.”

The Witzenberg Municipality, in which the run falls, are also excited about the run and have offered full support for the event.

The Skymarathon® is not to be confused with South Africa’s first Ultra Skymarathon, The Lesotho Ultra Trail to be run in Lesotho on November 30.

Contact Ghaleed on runningthecape@gmail.com or 082 887 3011, www.matroosbergtrailchallenge.co.za, www.skyrunning.co.za

Matroosberg Trail Challenge

MTC 2012: Pic: @runningthecape

1. There is something for everyone
Whether you’re looking at entering and finishing your very first SkyMarathon®, or simply want to enter a trail run in the beautiful surroundings of the Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve, the Matroosberg Trail Challenge (MTC) has something for you.

There are three events:

So pick your category and enter now!

2. It’s a gentle transition into sky running
If you’ve never done a sky run before and you’re not sure you’re up for it, the  Matroosberg SkyMarathon® is perfect for you. While it obviously abides by the SASA rules of exceeding an altitude of 2000m during the 36km, where the incline exceeds 30% at points and where the climbing difficulty is not more than 11 degrees, it is still a manageable distance for most fit trail runners. It’s perfect to try your legs and lungs out at sky running without committing to an ultra distance. This doesn’t mean you can train less though!

3. It’s just 2.5 hours out of Cape Town
Because of the nature and requirements of sky running – think big mountains – you’d think the venue would be far away and a few days leave would be required to get there. This is not the case as The Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve is situated a mere 180km from the Mother City;  about a 2 ½ hour drive.

4. A ticket into Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve
One of the draw cards to trail running is that you get to see South Africa on foot, in a way that  few fellow South Africans do. This event is no different. The Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve is situated on a farm about 35km out of Ceres. The farm and reserve play home to the Matroosberg Peak, which is the highest peak in the Boland, and the highest checkpoint on the sky marathon route at an ear popping 2249m altitude. To get an idea of the terrain you’ll be running on and the scenery around you, check out the images at Matroosberg website.

5. It’s perfect training for the Lesotho Ultra Trail, SA’s only Ultra SkyMarathon®
You may have entered the Lesotho Ultra Trail on 30 November already. If you have, then the MTC 36km SkyMarathon® is the perfect training run for the longer event. It will give your lungs and legs a taste of what’s to come. 

6. You might get to build a snowman
Late October snow fall on the highest peaks in the Province are not unheard of. Should that happen; you might well find yourself running through snow to get to the summit. Either way the views are spectacular up there, making all the effort more than worthwhile.

A little more interested to enter now? Check out the MTC website for more info and to enter.
See you there.
Article courtesy of MTC

Matroosberg Trail Challenge

The Summit: 2249m

“ALSO, and I think you will love this. I’ve heard of a route up Matroosberg on the South side (De doorns). Much steeper than the 4×4 track on the reserve side.” Ghaleed.

Correct on both accounts. It was definitely steeper and I did love it.

The Hex River Valley

Lower slopes: Retief & Ghaleed

The Hex River Mountains are some of the most spectacular in the Western Cape. They kind of grab you as you exit the Huguenot Tunnel heading north. You can’t take your eyes off them, which is a bit of problem when driving on the N1.

Luckily Ghaleed was driving. Gave me a chance to stare at the dark silhouettes towering above us.

Ghaleed Nortje organises the Matroosberg Trail Challenge, a 36km trail run in the Matroosberg Reserve (There is also a 24km challenge and a 14km option). The event, now in its second year, starts and ends on the northern side of the peak, in the Matroosberg Private Reserve. This year’s event has been awarded official Skymarathon status and will be the first Skymarathon in South Africa. Today, Ghaleed and I were reccing the southern slopes of the Matroosberg; which at 2249m at the peak is the second highest mountain in the Western Cape.

Matroosberg

Ghaleed looking chilly

These imposing mountains look inaccessible from the road but the 50km range offers the adventurous hiker a mountain range of opportunities. “The most adventurous mountains in the Western Cape,” said farmer and seasoned mountaineer, Retief Jordaan, owner of Tweespruit Farm.  He knows these mountains well, having grown up in the area and hiked many of the routes on offer.

We started our hike on his farm, which sits at the base of the Mountain just outside the town of De doorns. The ascent from the farm starts at about 500m asl as apposed to the 1150m start on the Ceres (northern) side. Retief, who holds the unofficial record of 1 hr 45 min to the peak, says “this is the real route up.” He also said that AJ Callitz, top local trail runner and confirmed entrant for the MTC, is threatening a training visit to the area and that his record may not last long.

Ghaleed and I were not after any records but hoped to make the summit in about 3 – 3 1/2 hours. I wasn’t really taking into account the snowy and icy upper slopes (luckily more snow than ice) and the poor visibility near the top.

Stoffel & Mika

Stoffel & Mika

Luckily we had Stoffel and Mika, two border collies from the farm, to accompany us. “They know the route,” said Retief. “Just make sure they don’t go down the other side. It’s a bugger to get them back.” Said Christine, Retief’s wife and founder of Hex Valley Down a down products industry she runs from their farm.

Retief at 60 + is lean and fit. He walked us up for an hour or so without breaking sweat and sent us on our way with some route instructions and two energetic dogs. Now I was greatful for the dogs’ company and not for a second did I doubt the dogs’ navigational skills. What I did doubt was their patience to wait for us. I needn’t have.

Much of the route is marked with cairns and because of the low vegetation it’s ok to veer off the path now and again. We continued upwards,  skirting the ominous looking gorge below and eventually losing the comfort of the sun as we entered the cloud we had been watching since early morning. We traversed snow covered slopes, skirted or skated small patches of ice and made our way up following the dogs mostly.

Except in the snow, where you can’t see the path or cairns, we weren’t sure if the dogs were choosing the best route for them or us. On a recent trip a group and I turned back before reaching the summit of Seweweekspoort (the highest mountain in the Western Cape) because of iced up rocks, I wasn’t in the mood for a repeat.

No problem; between the dogs and Ghaleed’s tracker app on his Blackberry we safely reached the summit in about five hours. The top was windy and very cold; perfect weather to share a picnic with our trusty companions who didn’t seem fazed by the weather at all.

The dogs lead us down, out the mist and back to the warmer lower slopes, eventually arriving at the farm before dark. We enjoyed a home cooked meal with the very hospitable Jordaans before heading back to Cape Town, large silhouettes towering above us.

See the full Gallery |     Enter the Matroosberg Trail Challenge

Heading down

Lower slopes: Pic by Ghaleed Nortje

Seweweekspoort

The ice fields on the upper slopes.

I should have seen it as an omen when on the Friday night I almost got frost bite while digging out a beer in Dirk’s cavernous cooler box packed with ice.

The next time I would see that much ice was the following day at about 2100m asl on the upper slopes of Seweweekspoort (SWP). SWP, at 2325m, is the highest mountain in the Western Cape. Only this time it was the steep slopes that were covered in ice and there were no beers in sight.

The upper slopes are all rock and plants with the ice covering making them both beautiful and treacherous. The sun glinting off the icy plants made the scene surreally dreamlike but with the promise of possible nightmares never far away. The ice was courtesy of the previous night’s rain; but despite conditions being like a high altitude ice skating rink, we decided to press on carefully and try reach the summit.

We had worked hard to reach this point and the thought of turning around without seeing the spectacular views promised from the summit was not a pleasant one. Six hours of tough hiking, including an early morning bundu bash through cold and wet fynbos, a minor cat fight with two of our party and hours of uphill slog, albeit it in stunning surroundings, had got us here.

Seweweekspoort

Seweweekspoort summit: So near - yet so far

We had set a turn around time of 2pm and as the hour neared Jane was in front. She took one look at the precipitous icy scramble near the top and declared it unsuitable. So we turned around, making one of those tough but important decisions hikers and climbers often need to make when near a summit. The good news is it left us some unfinished business on SWP and we will return. We had ascended up the southern route, a longer but more scenic ascent than the northern approach, which we will attempt next time.

Sleep came easy after a 10 hour day washed down with some cold ones but I was up at 3am for a promised meteor shower. Sure I saw a few shooting stars, not difficult in the dark country skies, but certainly not the 80 a minute we were expecting. Worth a shot but I didn’t get much sleep after that.

Towerkop

Towerkop in the distance

A few hours later and five of our original party set out to hike the imposing Towerkop. TK has a cool story attached. Apparently the peak was slashed by a witch who, in a hurry to fly home found a large peak looming before her; she whacked it with her broomstick, splitting it in two. Who were we to argue and it sure was magic up there.

In perfect autumn weather we had made our way up the scenic slopes, quite relieved to find a trail most of the way up. The peak is also one of the highest in the region and we eventually reached our destination, Nel’s Cave, at the base of the famous split peak. Only climbers with equipment can reach the summit so we enjoyed lunch at about 2000m with some of the most spectacular views imaginable before descending via the same route.

This ended a perfect weekend’s hiking in the Klein Swartberg Mountains, which are anything but klein (small). A weekend where we spent almost all of the daylight hours in the mountains. Just the way it should be.

We used Koedoeskloof Country Lodge as our base. The lodge has both camp sites and rooms for those so inclined as well as a cool little restaurant with roaring fire and home cooked meals. Hosts and owners Debra and Eugene made us feel quite at home and the place is perfect to use as a base camp for exploring the magnificent surrounds.

More Pics: SeweweekspoortTowerkop

Towerkop

The magic views from Towerkop

 

The fifth edition of the Pronutro AfricanX Trail Run kicks off today (Friday, April 19) and K-Way athlete Andre Calitz

Nic de Beer & AJ Calitz

will be on the start line. This is a three-day event where participants run in pairs and team members must stay together at all times. Calitz is teamed up with local trail speedster, Nic De Beer, his well-matched rival from last year’s 80km Peninsula Ultra Fun Run (PUFfeR).

Calitz was initially planning to run AfricanX in a mixed pair, with Zola Budd but she pulled out with a recurring injury. “Nic had a great result at Addo and we ran together most of the way at Puffer. Our running styles complement each other so I thought, ‘Hey, this could work!” says Calitz.

The race is made up of three stages over three days with distances of 31 km 33 km and 24km respectively. Both Calitz and De Beer shine in the ultra distance events, especially those with a lot of climb. These stages are somewhat ‘short’ for them.

“Yes, they’re short stages,” says Calitz. “I haven’t scouted the route but it looks as though there are some technical sections. Mostly it looks to be quite flat and fast, which doesn’t suit me.”

That said, the hills are where Calitz and De Beer aim to gain ground.

“It’s no secret that I always go hard on the climbs…to take the sting out of the speedsters on the flats and downs,” Calitz laughs. De Beer too has climbing legs so this pair is sure to close down gaps and make up time when the terrain veers uphill.

Two weeks ago Calitz won the K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge, setting a new record with 12 summits of Platteklip Gorge between sunrise and sunset. Asked whether his legs are rested after the 9,000-metres of accumulative ascent he replies, “I’ve trained very hard the last two weeks so my legs are not fresh, but I’m feeling strong”.

In looking at the line-up in the Men’s category, Calitz points out the pairs that will be vying for the lead.

“Definitely Mike and Ben, also Kane and Nicholas are very quick. Bernie is in super form so it’s going to be very fast and interesting,” he says referring to Michael Bailey, Ben Brimble, Kane Reilly, Nicholas Rupanga and Bernard Rakadaz.

At the end of May Calitz will run the marathon-distance Zegama Aizkorri in France. With 5,472 metres of ascent and descent over the 42-kilometre course distance, this Skyrunner Series event suits Calitz’s strengths. Two weeks later he’ll run the100-kilometre Verdon Canyon Challenge – also in France.

“AfricanX is very much preparation for my overseas races, so the more fast and strong guys for me to run against, the better,” he explains.

Running as ‘Team K-Way Vivo Gu’, Calitz and De Beer have experience and pedigree. The race starts on Friday, 19 April and finishes on Sunday, 21 April. Follow their race progress through the Cape Union Mart Facebook page (/capeunionmart) and the event website – www.africanx.co.za.

For most people Platteklip Gorge is just a means to getting to the top of Table Mountain. For first time hikers it’s a safe but strenuous journey to the top but

AJ Calitz descending Platteklip Gorge

for many seasoned hikers/runners it’s often a route to avoid unless absolutely necessary.

On Saturday, April 6, AJ Calitz, one of South Africa’s top trail runners, will attempt to ascend PK 12 times between sunrise and sunset. No mean feat and a seriously tough ask even for the fastest and fittest.  AJ will not be doing this for personal glory but for a good cause as he is among 175 entrants in this year’s  K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge, an annual fundraiser where runners get sponsored for their ascents up PK.

Last year, as a first-time entrant, AJ set a new course record with 11 ascents. Now, with numerous wins and race records on his impressive resume, Calitz has set himself a challenge; to better his record with one more ascent. With the start at sunrise and the finish at sunset, he has only 11 hours to achieve his goal.

Platteklip ascends 760 metres from bottom to top, which puts 12 summits at an accumulative 9,120-metre – that’s almost 300-metres higher than Mt Everest from sea level to summit! At the top, participants run to the Cable Car and catch a ride to the bottom. Each lap is 5.5km in total and the ascent alone is a physically demanding route that takes one to two hours on most fresh legs. It is this level of difficulty that makes this event worthy of being called a ‘challenge’. Most runners make three to six summits.

With this in mind, how will Calitz squeeze out another lap to reach his objective of 12 ascents?

As of this year Calitz is running full time – a professional athlete. He is putting more time into training, focusing on power and speed, which are both needed to get him through this Challenge.

“I have no specific plan other than to just run harder and faster,” he says. Calitz needs to make up five minutes per lap to fit in the 12th ascent.

“The easiest place to make up time is on the flat sections at the top of the mountain and the cable way,” he explains.

And it’s not like the cable car will be sitting waiting for him: “There is no way you can judge the cable car unfortunately,” he says. Calitz will certainly need a dash of luck to be on his side too.

As a fundraising initiative for Sinenjongo High School, the K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge raised R500,000 for the school in 2012 – and they aim to better this contribution this year. Donations are linked to runner profiles from the ‘Sponsor’ tab on the event website. By sponsoring a runner, donors contribute to the fund for the school, which is located in the impoverished community of Joe Slovo Park, in the Milnerton suburb.

Despite its lack of facilities and resources -  no hall, library, staff room nor sports facilities – this school has lifted its matric pass rate from 27% in 2008 to 90% in 2011. Last year 77 matrics passed – double that of the previous year – with 56 qualifying for tertiary education.

The Challenge starts at 7am and ends at sunset – 6pm. Throughout the day spectators can cheer on the runners ascending Platteklip Gorge and from the cable car stations.

Event website: www.charitychallenge.co.za.

Arabella Challenge Trail RunAs much as I love running in the Peninsula it’s always great to head out of town and explore some new trails. The Western Cape is an unbelievable region for hiking and running with a kaleidoscope of trails to choose from. You can travel anywhere from an hour to 3 hours plus and find pretty special trails anywhere you go.

So when an opportunity to run the Arabella Challenge arose, I grabbed it. This event encompasses both mountain biking and trail running with both disciplines offering two options. I’ll be running the 17km trail run on the 28 April in and around the trails of Kleinmond.

The Arabella team have been looking at setting up an event for a while now and they felt that this was the right time.  The events were started as an a opportunity for cyclist to get their feet wet, and, with trail running being one of the fastest growing sports in the country, they felt the area lent itself to a trail running event. By splitting the distances into two runs they have given the novices a good opportunity to test their legs on a shorter course and the more experienced can run the longer more technical route.

They are hosting the same event in April and September.

Details: Trail Run

The Trail Run event will be split into 2 categories, 11km and 17km, with numbers limited to 100 runners in both events.

Both trail run events will take place on the Sunday of the two events in questions: The runs take place on April 28 and September 22. There will be one watering point along both routes.
The event starts and finishes at the Arabella Country Estate (Phase 2 site), situated at the foot of the Palmiet Mountain range. The race will take runners through breathtaking scenery including the Kogelberg Biosphere.

>> More Info  <<

Mike Lundy. Best Walks in the Cape Peninsula

Best Walks in the Cape Peninsula - Eighth edition 2012

Mike Lundy has being writing guide books for 21 years and they continue to be some of the best guides around – especially for those looking to explore Cape Town’s beautiful mountains in a safe way.

Mikes latest offering is an old classic, Best Walks in the Cape Peninsula. This is the eighth edition and is full of useful information, from safety to geology, as well as 30 of the best hikes you can do in Cape Town.

14 Years ago I started discovering the Cape Town mountains using Mike’s books and found them to be an excellent way to find my mountain feet and be adventurous at the same time. Nothing has changed and I have now walked many of these classics numerous times and taken hundreds of hikers on these well worn but beautiful routes. I seldom still use the guide but when I was a novice – they provided step by step instructions, providing me with a fantastic grounding to explore further, as well as hours of hiking enjoyment.

I caught up with Mike and had a few questions for him.

What made you decide to write your first book all those years back?
I had been very involved with Round Table, at national and international level. When they kicked me out at age 40 (a prerequisite of membership) I found myself at a loss, and after a couple of years started writing a gossip column for the local rag (Sentinel News). Included in the column was a monthly hike description in and around Hout Bay. I soon kept bumping into people on the mountain with my articles pasted into an exercise book. I realised there was a need and so “Twenty Walks around Hout Bay” was born (1985) Self published. Will never do that again! Five years later (1991) with encouragement from friends I wrote “Best Walks in the Cape Peninsula”. This time published by a professional (Struik).

Is it difficult writing guide books – the attention to detail is so important?
Not difficult if you are a complete freak on minute detail. My wife says I’m a nutter…. I count oncoming cars at stop/go road blocks, lemons on a tree….. anything!

Do you rewalk all the hikes in the book each time you bring out a new edition? Yes. Absolutely MUST do. Everything changes; even mountains.

You’ve kind of stuck to the same walks – did you not want to introduce any new walks to the latest edition?
Did that from time to time. The 1st Edition only had 22 hikes in it. 4th Edition 26. Last couple of Editions 30 hikes

Do you still hike as much as you used to?
Sadly no. With a heart condition at 71,going on 72,  I walk around the mountains, not up them. (See “Easy Walks in the Cape Peninsula’!)  The last two editions of “Best Walks” were thanks to my friend Brian Georgeson re-walking and checking every hike, then passing the handwritten changes to me.

Any new books in the pipeline?
No. The last one published two years ago is entitled “Scenic Day Drives from Cape Town”. Sort of gives away the encroaching age doesn’t it?  But I’m pleased to say my youngest son Timothy is following firmly in my footsteps. He is a qualified mountain guide and busy writing “Walks with Grandad”

Do you do any other writing? The very occasional Mag article when asked.

Best Walks is published by Randomstruik

AJ Calitz

Last year Andre Calitz, a relative newcomer to trail running and a novice Three Peaks runner blasted his way to a new course record. This race started a trend and many record-setting runs followed, including a Puffer win and new record. No longer an unknown, Calitz returns this year with substantially more experience. He also carries a season of racing in his legs and the weight of expectation on his shoulders.

Three weeks ago Calitz competed in the marathon-distance Otter African Trail Run for the first time. Not only did he place second –five minutes behind race winner and past record-holder Iain Don-Wauchope – but he also beat the race record set last year by Ryan Sandes, by 10 minutes. Also, both Calitz and Don-Wauchope became the first ever sub-4:30 runners at The Otter.

On top of building his speed for The Otter, Calitz has put in specific training for Three Peaks. “I’ve done a lot of climbing and intensity work and also quite a lot of technical skills for the steep descents,” he explains. “Route knowledge is also essential so I’ve spent some time on the route last week to scout for the fastest routes and possibly dangerous and time-consuming sections.”

Calitz is certainly the best mountain runner around and he has a knack for running fast and strong uphill and downhill. He recommends running up and down staircases as preparation for races with big climbs. He also often runs on the beach, going up and down sand dunes.

“There is no substitute for proper climbing and unfortunately the best way to learn how to go up mountains fast is to go up mountains fast. Hill repetitions have their place as they offer good intensity, rhythm and strength work but mountains are a different story because they’re very steep and very long. Lion’s Head is an awesome all-round training route; it’s a nice hill with a difficult climb to the top,” he advises.

It’s not just the ups that are challenging. Steep descents can destroy the field of competitors.

“Yes, downhills hammer my legs too!” Calitz exclaims. “There’s no way you can do this in minimalist shoes because you need the cushioning and it is really impossible to prevent your legs taking strain because you have to go down. Getting a rhythm and trying to ‘flow’ helps a lot. For the best example of ‘flow’, just watch Iain Don-Wauchope run down a hill!”

Calitz’s course record of 5.07.39 is up for grabs. The spotlight is as much on Calitz as his competitors. Runners most likely to challenge for the front include Andrew Hagen and Ake Fagereng.

“Andrew is an animal and Ake is always strong. Both have won this race numerous times and they are in good form,” says Calitz.

He believes that a sub-5 hour time is possible: “I think we started too quick last year and that this race will be won and lost on Platteklip”.

Going into the race Calitz doesn’t have a particular strategy. “There are always many unknowns, like the weather, so it is always tough. And there are expectations this year, which weren’t there last year, but mostly I expect a good race from myself.”

Katya Sogot

Katya Sogot winning the 2012 TMC

Cape-based brand K-Way is a sponsor of the Three Peaks Challenge and of Andre. “We’re proud to be associated with what is the most iconic trail run in the Western Cape (and arguably one of the toughest). These Peaks sit in our backyard – but only a few have ever climbed one, let alone run all three in a day!” says Nick Bennett, marketing manager for K-Way.

On the women’s’ side Katya Sogot is a firm favourite. The little dynamo is especially good on technical terrain and the steep up and down course should suit her. It would be no surprise if she broke the record as well.

The Challenge starts at 5am on Saturday, 3 November just around the corner from Greenmarket Square. 120 runners will attempt to ascend all three peaks by 7pm – a 14-hour allowance. Greenmarket Square should prove an entertaining spectator point. More information can be found here

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