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.”
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.