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.

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