AJ Calitz at Verdon Canyon Challenge

AJ Calitz at Zegama-Aizkorri

AJ Calitz at Zegama-Aizkorri

This weekend, K-Way athlete Andre Calitz will have no time to savour the cheeses and wines of France’s Provence region as he runs the 100-kilometre Verdon Canyon Challenge.

Calitz is expecting to be out in the mountains for at least 12 to 13 hours. “There’s 6,500-metres of positive ascent!” he says.

Race organisation positions five aid stations on the route, to provide runners with food and drinks.

“But being in the mountains these are weather dependant. We’ve already been told that one has been cancelled,” Calitz says. The weather forecast for the area is a mild 23 degrees, although the conditions can be very different and variable in the mountains.

He’s expecting the terrain to be a good mix of runnable trails with very steep and rough climbs. The event website shows a lung-bursting and thigh-burning route profile – totally suited to Calitz’s climbing strength.

“The race starts and ends with a nice big climb,” he says with a big smile.

Three weeks ago Calitz took a tumble while running in the Zegama-Aizkorri 42-kilometre race in Spain. His knee was sliced open when he fell and the race doctor prevented him from continuing. She stapled the wound closed.

“My knee is ok,” says Calitz. “It is still pretty painful at times but should be alright. The staples are out. My wife and I removed them with nail clippers and a Leatherman…”

During his travels through France Calitz has kept up his training “much as my knee would allow”, finding “some epic trails around the South of France”.

He’s not sure who the other runners are or what type of competition he’ll have at this race.

“Some fast guys have run in the past, but I have no idea who I am up against. In a race like this I am running against myself. 100 kilometres with this much ascent is going to be very hard.”

The race starts at 03h00 on Saturday, 15 June 2013.


Event: Verdon Canyon Challenge

Distance: 100 kilometres

Date: Saturday, 15 June 2013

Time: 03h00 start. 35-hour limit. (the time in France and SA is the same)

Location: Aiguines, France (South, Provence region)

Website: www.trailverdon.com (French and English options)

5 thoughts on “AJ Calitz at Verdon Canyon Challenge

  1. I think it is doable but the 12-13h is a big goal. Arneaud Lejeune holds the record of I think12:43. He got second or third in Diagonal de Fous. Also there are only 7 people exist who ran under 15hours. So that shows the difficulty of the terrain.
    The meteo for the weekend is 27-30°C in the canyons, with and expected storm for the afternoon. We might be obliged to add rain coat to the obligatory equipments.
    The course is a hike-run race, running will be really limited to flat parts, technical fastpackers are in advantage. There will be chain climbing, crawling, stream crossings, bouldering and loads of quad busting fun. The first and the last climb is the biggest but not huge, 2 x 825m, but all at low altitude
    There will be 9 aid stations, 2 drop bag points not 5, fortunately, and the small streams are drinkable too. I mean it is a national park, very protected so should be clean. The obligatory 2L water is a bit too much to carry. That would mean 20L consumed during the 9 aid stations.
    It will be a fantastic race, I am really looking forward to it !!!

  2. Hello, I’m part of the organization of this race and I ran 50km race in 2011 and 100km last year. And I’m very happy to receive AJ tomorrow at home before going to Verdon friday (if he calls me back to know where and where do we meet ! 🙂 )
    4 notes :
    – the water is NOT drinkable, because of many sheep.
    – the last climb is 1000m, from the river to the top of Grand Marges : 350+ / 3km flat / 700+
    – provisioning n°8 is not exactely cancelled but moved from a bank to the other : 3km farther and 350m to down and up …
    – 2l water is not not much, last year it was 35° in the hottest hours, I drank more than 20 l during my race. We starter 210, only 112 finishers …

    The best performance was done by Pascal Blanc in 2011, and 4 monthes later he was 2nd at La Diagonale des Fous, only 28′ after Kilian Jornet.
    Arnaud Lejeune lost his way last year, did 3km more (!) and won with 2h before 2nd !! afterthis performance he was 3th at Diagonale des Fous in october 2012.

    • Hi Antoine, thanks for the message. I am not sure when AJ arrives but I will ensure he gets this message. I look forward to following the race… The Verdon is a beautiful area of France. I visited many years ago but I have never run or hiked. I must come back! Ian

      • I hope you’ll come for 2014 event !
        Did you see you can follow the race from :

        on the top, right, select “100km” and in the field bellow set the name of the person you want to know the position.
        it’s not “live” because there are many zone without any GSM signal. But you can see every checkpoint. Each time we arrive on a provisioning point we are scanned, so you can see when AJ arrives on any point. And you can compare with :
        http://chrono.geofp.com/verdon2012/v2/ with Lejeune data.
        I think one of the best this year is Jean-Marc Zaugg, he won 2008 and was 2nd in 2010, 2011, 2012 ! he knows the place very well and won two races since the end of april (63km 2800m and 45km 1800m), so he’s in a good shape !

      • Antoine, I would love to come in 2014 if my diary allows. Many thanks for the information. I will do my best to follow but I will actually be working at Haria Extreme in Lanzarote, so, it may prove difficult. Hope the race goes well! Ian

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