Red Bull LionHeart played out on Saturday on Cape Town’s Lion’s Head where runners faced off against each other in elimination rounds. For the third year in a row,

Calitz The LionHeart

K-Way athlete AJ Calitz  dominated the event to claim a hat trick of LionHeart crowns. He set another new course record of 25.54 in the process.

“LionHeart is one of my favourite races of the year and I always look forward to it,” says Calitz. “When I get to the start line I remember how hard it is. This year was no exception.”

Last year the competitors ran a 3.7-kilometre qualifying circuit in the morning with three elimination rounds in the afternoon. This year runners qualified for the 22 men’s and 11 women’s places by using Strava – a free-for-download GPS route tracking app – in the lead-up to the event, which meant four ascents during the race.

“It makes a difference to race four times, instead of three,” says Calitz. “Luckily, more ascents suits me.”

Fortunately the forecasted rain stayed away on race day, although gusty winds high up on the peak made for cold temperatures and tricky conditions underfoot on the technical and rocky terrain.

LION TAMERS - AJ Cailtz & Landi Greyling

“I had friends and family waiting at the bottom with my warm K-Way jacket, some food and water so that I could keep warm and recover after each heat. My wife, Paulette is an amazing support at these events.”

Calitz had a tough draw, running against Ben Brimble in the first heat and quarterfinal and then against Thabang Madiba in the semifinal and final.

“The first three rounds were a lot faster than last year and we had to push from the word go,” he says.

“I was very nervous before the final as Thabang beat me at Otter in September and he was tipped as the man-to-beat at LionHeart this year. But I stuck to my guns and did what I had planned; to start the climb hard and break early. My plan paid off and I had about a 40-second gap at the top. I managed to keep the gap until the gravel section where Thabang’s leg speed would be a real danger. Gladly the gap was big enough and I could hold him off.”

Calitz ran the final in 25.54, beating Madiba by 21 seconds and again setting a new course record – a time that is almost one-minute faster than his record set in 2013.

Landie Greyling won the women’s race for a second time (33.58), beating Cape Town runner Megan Leslie in the final by only 29 seconds. 16-year old Leslie is the newest member of K-Way’s junior athlete stable.

FINAL MEN’S RESULTS

1 AJ Calitz  25.54

2 Thabang Madiba  26.15

3 Martin Kleynhans  29:39

4 Ben Brimble  30.37

 

FINAL WOMEN’S RESULTS

1. Landie Greyling 33.58

2. Megan Leslie  34.27

3. Amy Burton  36.20

4. Allie Townsend  37.22

 

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 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.

Three Peaks

Runners approaching the Knife Edge

I’m not a particularly competitive runner, although I might sometimes chase a faster time on routes or events that I do regularly. It’s just not often that I’m up for it.

But when the opportunity does arise I’m all for it. Last Sunday was the UCT (that be The University of Cape Town for out of towners) GSB (Graduate School of Business) Three Peaks Challenge. This is an annual event organised by the current MBA class and run by many of them. It is also not to be confused with the other, more difficult, Three Peaks Challenge (3 November)

This one involves Cape Town’s three peaks starting at UCT and going up Mowbray Ridge, over the Knife Edge to Devil’s Peak, down to the saddle and up the infamous Ledges to Maclear’s Beacon, down PK (Platteklip), finally ending on top of Lion’s Head. A not unchallenging and rather fun route.

The run was once reserved for GSB students but they have recently opened it up to the general public. Last year I entered for the first time and ran it with a friend, Petro. I led her a merry dance in the mist, getting lost on the upper slopes of Devil’s Peak and getting caught in the pack on the way up Ledges. Despite this Petro still landed up being first woman home. We had run together most of the way with Petro dropping me on Lion’s Head and finishing a few minutes ahead of me. I finished in 4.35, quite high up the field. The nice thing about this event is that a lot of non regular runners take part, making us mid packers feel good about ourselves as we finish higher up the field than normal.

This year, having reccied the route I was hoping to comfortably beat that time, even dreaming of a sub 4 hour. The weather on the day was spectacular, clear skies and a threatening sun early on. Once again Petro and I set off together – Petro dragging me up the hills and me gaining ground and position on the downs. Having safely negotiated Ledges, thanks to the help of the Mountain Club man and his ropes, we headed for Maclears. On our approach to the highest point on TM (Table Mountain) we heard the voice of Michael “the CEO” Ohlsson, there to meet us and offer some encouragement and company. We raced down PK, me literally bouncing off the rocks on a regular basis, Michael hurling abuse from behind.

But after refreshing at the stream near the bottom of PK and Petro having caught up, my competitive streak set in. As we neared the PK seconding table we could see a small group just ahead of us. At this point I turned to Petro saying, “Petro, you are the reigning women’s champion and in second place, there is the woman currently in first place – go get her.” At which stage Petro turned to me, gave me one of those death stares only women can give and went after her, my words “eye of the tiger Petro eye of the tiger” left trailing in her wake.

So while Petro took care of my competitive streak I meekly coasted to the finish taking some serious strain in the now pretty warm weather.

Petro eventually finished 2nd woman, three minutes behind eventual winner Angela, but it was a fine effort nevertheless. I beat last year’s time by 10 minutes; a long way off the four hour mark but a decent finish.

At the post event braai some spot prizes were given out. I managed to answer a simple question quickest and walked off with an Ipod the size of a blister on my big toe. Yip, I too can be competitive.

First women, Angela (Left) & Petro on Lion's Head

 

Trail Runner's Guide

Trail Runner's Guide

It wasn’t that long ago that you could list the various trail runs around the country on one hand – o.k. maybe two and a couple of toes but there were very few. The last seven or so years have seen an explosion of trail running shoes hitting South Africa’s treasure trove of mountain paths and coastline and a host of organised events to go with. From 5km fun runs to a range of hardcore ultras up to 100km and beyond for the multi-day events.

Now the first guide book to these organised trail runs has hit the shelves. Its 220 pages of 100+ trail runs across the country. And even with this comprehensive guide many runs still didn’t make the cut. It must have been a tough job for adventure photographer and writer, Jacques Marais to pick and choose the runs to include. So tough he excluded some of my favourites.

That aside he has done a pretty good job with the guide and a quick flick through will get any local trail runner checking their calendar and budget to see which runs he can make. It covers the entire country and has given me some serious trail envy. Of course many runs I already knew about, but many I did not, and have added them to my trail bucket list, which was long enough before the book came out.

A full colour offering, Marais has included plenty of information on each run with comments from well known trail runners to give a personal perspective to each run. There are 50 runs covered in detail with distance, maps & directions to the start, route profile, terrain, event description, expert views and accommodation suggestions – everything you need to know to get your trail feet to these events. There is also a section of 50 runs with less info – but just enough to get you interested, and at the end a general calendar allowing you to choose a month and see what is happening at a glance.

Gripes
Marais is a brilliant photographer and there are many great pics in the book but I somehow got the feeling he left out much of his best work when selecting pics for this guide.

He left out the Three Peaks Challenge, my favourite event, even if it involves a large section of tar in-between scaling Cape Town’s three peaks, (Puffer also has a large tar section). He also left out The Bat Run, an iconic night trail run in Cape Town which has been around a lot longer than most. This is not as commercial as many others and one of the few established night runs on the calendar.

Trail Envy.
The Mnweni marathon has gone to the top of my list, a low key but stunning looking event in the Drakensberg Mountains.

Overall an entirely useful and colourful book for any trail runner who enjoys the organised events. Or even those who don’t but want a look at what trails there are to run in SA. There are plenty.

For sale in book shops around the country. Published by Map Studio

A little while back I received an email asking if I wanted to assist with a trail running excerpt for the Expresso Show, a local lifestyle show on morning TV on SABC3.

Now with a face made for radio and a voice for mime I was reluctant at first. I really wasn’t into going into the studio to talk about trail running. But once it was explained that this would be an outdoor shoot with Lisa Raleigh, the fitness expert, I thought why not? It’s not everyday I get asked to be on TV in any capacity and I thought it might be fun.

So on a chilly but sunny Wednesday afternoon I gathered a few hardy trail runners together at the bottom of Lion’s Head. Lisa arrived with a rather unfit cameraman, soundman and a Sanparks rep in tow and we went to the top of Lion’s Head, shooting as we went. It was fun and the excerpt produced was pretty cool in the end.

Have a look.

One aspect of trail running I love is its simplicity and the fact that’s its relatively inexpensive as sports go. Once you have your basic running gear your most expensive item is your shoes. I don’t have any huge requirements when it comes to shoes – I am no major techie on the ins and outs of trail runners – but I know what I need.

Comfort
Your shoes are often your most loyal, and only, companion for hours on end. You kinda of never notice them – until you do – and then it’s not good, comfort is vital. These days you can buy a new pair of trail shoes and run 5 plus hours straight off without so much as a hint of a blister.

Grip
When descending Platteklip in misty and wet conditions on sandy and wet rocks – nothing really sticks too much but you do need to be able to rely on your shoes’ grip, especially when descending at pace…or so I’m told.

Hardiness
I need my shoes to be hardy. I’m no twinkle toes and I’m running on rough often rocky terrain. I need shoes that can take that kind of shit – not shy away at the first sign of a loose pebble and fall apart like a girl scout who can’t sell cookies. Hardy – get out there, get dirty but keep it together. Which brings me to lifespan.

Longevity
How long should a pair of shoes last? Well how long is a piece of string? It also depends on how many pairs of shoes you own and how much you run. I like my trail runners to last me a year, I only use one pair at a time and I hike in them as well. I budget on them to last me a year and less than that I get a bit pissed – o.k. 9-12 months but no less than nine. I do run regularly but not that much.

Brands
I have no brand loyalty. I haven’t yet found a brand to stick to and I have tried many. I enjoy the fact that more and more brands are targeting trail specific shoes and that there is plenty of choice. I wore Salomons a few years back; very comfy, good drainage and I like the draw string laces but the ankle support was not good and I found my ankles frequently going. I moved onto a pair of Montrails; hardyish and o.k. comfort wise but the sole started pealing at about 8 months. So for R50 bucks I had them glued and I got another 6 months out of them.

Salomon Crossmax

Salomon Crossmax - 9 months. RIP

I had a pair of New Balance thrown in there somewhere but this pair couldn’t hack the trails at all so had to be relegated to beachfront strolls only. I then went back to Salomon with their very good Crossmax – very good in all departments but they only lasted nine months.

Desperate for shoes I saw a pair of Hi tech Infinities still on sale at Cape Union Mart. At R500 bucks it seemed good value – but after a month the shoe was falling apart – I swapped them for a new pair and the same thing happened. That’s not a trail shoe that’s a slipper.

Saucony Xodus 3.0

Saucony Xodus 3.0

Luckily, at about the same time a brand appears to have found me. I won a lucky draw competition on Saucony’s Facebook page and within two days a new pair of Saucony Xodus 3.0s arrived at my door. The fit was perfect – lucky as I had never tried them on before. They are very comfortable, and the thick sole has good grip and is looking as solid as ever. Time will tell as to its longevity but I am loving this understated shoe. She’s no looker but she is a goer. That’s no disrespect to Saucony – I don’t really like lumo and brightly coloured shoes – I like these!

Running up and down Cape Town’s three peaks (Devils Peak, Table Mountain and Lions Head) isn’t most people’s idea of fun – but it is mine. This is kind of strange as I usedto hate running. Well hate is a strong word; I just didn’t like it much. I loved hiking though and found once I got into it that I could hike pretty fast up some fairly steep mountains. Then I saw an article in the paper about the Three Peaks Challenge which caught my interest, but after reading that they start in town near to Greenmarket Square and return to the Square after each peak, I laughed to myself, thought “fucking crazy” and lost interest.

The following year, 2002, the Three Peaks reared its beautiful three heads again and a friend, a Celtics runner at the time, told me to phone fellow Celtics runner Gavin Snell, the organiser of the event. As sceptical as I was I soon found myself chatting to Gavin who told me about the event, showed me some pics and hauled out his shoebox of memorabilia including the hand carved trophies of the Three Peaks that every finisher gets. The trophies are made by Don Hartley, founder and co-organiser of the event. All well and good I said but I don’t run. Don’t worry said Gavin you’ll be fine. Far from convinced I decided to give it a bash and entered.

Three Peaks Challenge 2011I started doing some running, completed my first half marathon in the process, and on the first Saturday in November, 2002 I found myself lined up in Long Street at 5am with a bunch of other nutters. About 8 ½ hours later I completed my first challenge, had the best time and was hooked – not just on the Three Peaks but on trail running in general.

November 2011, nine years later, I have completed my 10th Challenge. Those years have seen me become a seasoned trail runner who now loves running and has his own shoebox of Three Peaks memories. I have watched the local trail running scene explode into a main stream sport with many roadies finally seeing the light and now stretching their legs regularly if not exclusively on the mountains. Where once there were a handful of trail events there is now one almost every week.

While the trail running scene has changed I’m glad to say the Three Peaks Challenge has not. The organisers are the same, the atmosphere is the same, and the entry fee kept affordable, unlike many events which charge almost 3x that amount for far less, and you still receive a hand carved Three Peaks trophy if you finish. More importantly I still love this event. I have roped in many an unsuspecting runner who landed up running next to me at some run or another, burning their ears with tales of this special event – some of them completed their 5th challenge this year. The one difference is that nine years ago you could phone Gavin the night before and get an entry – that is no longer possible.

Thanks Gavin, who has not only organised all 15 events to date –read the history of the event here –  but has run every one as well –  and thanks Don for starting this event in 1997, 100 years after it was first completed. Looking forward to no 11.

The Hout Bay Triple Trouble has been trouble for me since its second running in 2006, but now, having recently completed my third, I can safely say its right up there as one of my favourite runs on the trail calendar – despite the tar sections between each peak.

Started by Eric Tollner in 2005 as a training run for the more established Three Peaks Challenge, it has developed into a very special, albeit low key, event. The run starts at the Chapman’s Peak Hotel in Hout Bay and takes in Suther Peak, Judas Peak, via Llandadno Ravine, and Chapman’s Peak, returning to the hotel after each peak. The field is small, 30 runners, and friendly, with just a few speedsters chasing records and the win. The rest of us like to take our time (often more through necessity than choice), smell the flowers, enjoy the views and camaraderie and revel in a day out on the spectacular Hout Bay mountains.

Hout Bay TripleTrouble 2011

Doug & Mike on Chapman's Peak

My troubles started at my first attempt in 2006. I somehow managed to get lost descending Judas Peak in the mist, wandered about the top for an hour looking for the path down before finding my own, not very safe descent and traversing back to Llandadno Ravine. After my not so kosher experience I declined the 3rd peak leaving me with unfinished business which I planned to put right the next year. 2007 arrived and I entered early. But the year was a hectic one, with numerous moves and the birth of my son, and came Triple Trouble time, I was pretty exhausted the night before. I woke up at 4am, confirmed what I already knew and sent a text message to Eric, bailing before even putting on my running shoes. I managed to get there to take some pics on the third peak and once again vowed to be back the next year.

2008 and I was the first to enter, but then realised it clashed with my holiday plans so was first out as well. My holiday plans changed and I again landed up on Chappies taking pics.

2009 and finally I got to experience the triple in all its glory. The morning started with a scooter ride from Sea Point to the start with a large orange moon hanging lazily over the glassy sea, the day was already perfect and it was only 5.30am.

After my experience in 2006 I was determined not to get lost this year, but it didn’t take me long. After tagging Suther Peak, I led Brenda, my running partner for the day, down the garden path and landed up with a fabulous viewpoint but sheer drops everywhere. We backtracked and made our way safely down, finding ourselves at the back of the field but in no hurry.

The second peak was stunning; fynbos as far as the eye can see, clear skies with views to everywhere and Mediterranean-like turquoise seas below. The South Easter that had howled the week prior to the run had cleaned up the air and sea for the day.

We finished at the tail end of the field – hot and happy after 10 hours + of beautiful weather and stunning mountains – finally I was on the board.

2010 saw me run the entire route with Michael and Douglas, and various others along the way. With cooler weather and stronger legs we finished in just over 7 ½ hours. Almost 3 hours behind the winner, a certain Ryan Sandes, who seemed to cruise the route but still broke the record finishing in a fast 4.48 and some change.

This year was similar – cool weather and Michael and Douglas again keeping me entertained as we as toured Hout Bay the way very few people ever do. The colourful flowers on the first peak, again the fynbos on the second and whales in the bay on the third made for another memorable trip. While we weren’t racing we realised at the top of Chappies that if we motored we might just break 7 hours. When we hit the tar for the 4km downhill dash to the cold beers – it was still on. But as we neared the finish – about 500m near – Michael started to cramp and stopped to get himself right. Douglas and I had a brief discussion, wait and risk not reaching our sub 7-hour target – or leave Mike, finish under 7 hours and face his wrath. We chose “glory” over sentiment and finished in 6.58.10. Mike, to his credit, finished a minute later also breaking the 7 hour mark and not letting us forget for a minute that we ditched him 500m from home after running together the entire day. Sorry Mike!

At the front of the field Rupert Becker proved you don’t need sponsors and financial incentives to break records (although that would be nice) – just enormous talent and a great attitude – he shaved 1.14 off Ryan’s time – smiling all the way to the finish.

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