Lion King aims for the Sky – AJ Calitz

Image ©redbull

Image ©redbull

 AJ Calitz lines up for the high-intensity Red Bull LionHeart event and just one week later will toe the line at the ultra-distance Salomon SkyRun.The two races will require a particular change in gears particularly as Calitz is attempting to stand on the podium at both events. 

Two years ago Calitz set the pace at the inaugural Red Bull LionHeart, a 4, 4-kilometre duel from the base of Cape Town’s Lion’s Head peak to the top and back down again. Rather than a mass start, the race pits runners against each other in a head-to-head duel. Contenders run again and again, knocking out rivals on their climb up the ranks. Last year Calitz defended his title and beat Thabang Madiba by a mere 11 seconds to claim his second LionHeart title – and setting a new course record (26:46) at the same time.

Calitz has been training on Lion’s Head in preparation for this year’s event, which takes place on Saturday 15 November. When asked how he aims to pull back more seconds from his previous record runs, Calitz replies, “It is always possible to go faster; I am a lot faster on the downs this year”. 

He finds the stretch of jeep track to be the hardest section of the course. “Coming down from the top is quite a rush!” he adds.

Calitz is back for the third time. Aside from defending his crown, he is attracted to the race because of its man-on-man heat setup. “Whoever is prepared to hurt the most will win,” he says.

AJ Calitz at Zegama-Aizkorri

AJ Calitz at Zegama-Aizkorri

A week later Calitz transitions physically – and mentally – from the fast-paced action of LionHeart to the 100-kilometre mountain race, Salomon SkyRun. He has been out in the Witteberg mountains, familiarising himself with the route and the terrain.

“Yes, it helps a lot to be familiar with the course; route knowledge is 60% of the race at this event. To be fair, with racing at altitude and living at sea level I have to manage my expectations.”

Last year the race was cut short due to bad weather. Howling wind, torrential ice-rain and fog brought dangerous conditions to the mountains and Calitz, who was chasing race leader Iain Don-Wauchope, was nearly hypothermic and he withdrew from the race. He learned from this experience.

“Last year was rough,” he says of his first experience at SkyRun. “I learned that I should start slower because it is a long day out. Also, I have to focus on navigation, pacing and nutrition from the start.”

Links:

Red Bull LionHeart website (www.redbulllionheart.com).

The Salomon SkyRun (www.skyrun.co.za) starts before sunrise on Saturday, 22 November 2014 from the town of Lady Grey in the Eastern Cape.  The most up-to-date content during the race will appear on the event organiser’s Facebook page (Pure Adventures).

AJ Calitz provides insight into the record breaking 2013, The Otter, South Africa

This past weekend the strongest field of trail runners ever seen at a South African event took on The OTTER African Trail Run, a one-day race on the 42-kilometre Otter Trail – a popular multi-day hiking trail. But far from taking five days to complete the scenic route, the fastest runners blitz the course in less than four-and-a-half hours. K-Way athlete AJ Calitz spent the race in the thick of it to take a hard-earned third spot on the podium.

“The race started a lot slower than I expected, with the exception of Ricky, who went off the front immediately,” recalls Calitz. “I decided to run with Iain Don-Wauchope as he is the most experienced and he always sets a good pace.”

Calitz says that Lucky Miya, Kane Reilly and Thabang Madiba went after Lightfoot. He decided to hang back with Don-Wauchope.

“We figured that Ricky would either beat us by a country mile or pop completely and we would catch him.”

For most of the race Calitz ran in a four-man group with Don-Wauchope, Michael Bailey and Stuart Marais. Later, the pair broke away and they were on a sub-4h30 pace, which is what they were aiming for. Last year Don-Wauchope and Calitz were the first runners to break 4h30 at this event on the first running of the East-to-West RETTO route (OTTER in reverse). The RETTO route is said to be harder – by those who have run both; running a faster time on the OTTER course was well within the ability of both runners.

“On top of Andre’s Hut (eight kilometers to go), I had dropped Iain and caught Lucky, Thabang and Kane,” says Calitz, who made good use of his famed ability to run uphill fast.

“Iain recovered supremely well and he caught me again. I just didn’t have the legs on the downs to stay with him.”

Although Calitz caught Don-Wauchope again on another climb, Don-Wauchope pulled away again on another down.

“That proved to be too much for me,” says Calitz. “After the start, we didn’t see Ricky again; it was me and Iain racing for second and third, with Iain coming out on top.”

Back in 2011 Ryan Sandes set an OTTER course record of 4:40:15, taking eight minutes off the previous record. Until last year, when Don-Wauchope and Calitz both ran sub-4:30, it had seemed unlikely that the record could dip much lower.

And then, on Sunday, Great Britain’s Ricky Lightfoot – the recently crowned 2013 Trail Running World Champion – achieved the unthinkable. Blowing sub-4h30 out of the water, he took 25 minutes off Sandes’ record to establish 04:15:27 as the new time to beat. But, it wasn’t just an unbelievably good day out for Lightfoot; the first seven men all beat Sandes’ 2011 record and five of them ran sub-4h30. Don-Wauchope and Calitz clocked 04:24:33 and 04:27:03 respectively.

“This was an incredibly tough day out; I really gave all that I had,” Calitz adds.

Is a sub-4h10 the next holy grail at this race, ‘The Grail of Trail’? Next year, more international runners will join South Africa’s ever-improving best at this marathon-distance challenge. And with course times dropping every year by substantial amounts, it seems that the record is nowhere near the limit of physical ability – yet.

Men’s Results

1. Ricky Lightfoot (Great Britain), 4:15:27 *
2. Iain Don-Wauchope (South Africa), 04:24:33
3. Andre Calitz (South Africa), 04:27:03

* Previous course record held by Ryan Sandes, 4:40:15 set in 2011.

Women’s Results

1. Ruby Muir (New Zealand), 4:55:34 * (new record)
2. Landie Greyling (South Africa), 4:58:57
3. Nicolette Griffioen (South Africa), 5:24:57

PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.jacquesmarais.co.za / SONY

* The previous course record was held by Jeannie Bomford, 5:17:12 set in 2010.

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Episode 36 – Ultrapedestrian Ras, Kremer, Calitz, Davies, Cardelli, Browy

Ep36

Episode 36 of Talk Ultra – Stevie Kremer and AJ Calitz talk to us from Zegama-Aizkorri. We speak to Brendan Davies and Beth Cardelli respective winners from TNF100 in Australia. An inspirational 15 minutes of fame with Eric Browy, Talk Training is about Knees with Mitch from StrideUK. Our interview is with UltraPedestrian Ras. Speedgoat (Karl Meltzer) is back, we have a blog, the news and of course, the up and coming races.

Show Notes:

00:00:45 Start
00:16:30 News with Speedgoat
00:24:50 AJ Calitz talks to Ian after his run at Zegama-Aikorri.

Trail runner Andre ‘AJ’ Calitz is a record-setting South African trail runner. Over the past two years he has won numerous local races, frequently setting new records on challenging courses. He is sponsored by the outdoor brand K-Way. In just the past six months Calitz ascended Table Mountain’s Platteklip Gorge a record 11 times between sunrise and sunset to win the K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge. He then won the two-day Grootvadersbosch Trail Run, where he set new records on both days. At the end of August, running in wind and rain, Calitz won the 80-kilometre Hi-Tec Peninsula Ultra Fun Run (PUFfeR) and set a new record time of six hours, 59 minutes and 36 seconds, becoming the first runner to set a sub-7 hour time on the original, full-distance route. In 2012 Calitz placed second at The Otter, a 42-kilometre trail run on the iconic Otter Hiking Trail. Even more impressive was that Andre, together with race winner Iain Don-Wauchope, became the first runners to break the 4h30 barrier. Both runners broke the course record set last year by Ryan Sandes. Although Calitz is a relative newcomer to trail running, his pedigree is impressive. He has been a multiple All Africa Triathlon Champion, South African Duathlon and Triathlon Champion and South African Cycling Champion. He also holds silver medals for Two Oceans and Comrades finishes.

00:46:00 Back to News
00:50:20 Stevie Kremer talk to Ian after a stunning third place Zegama-Aizkorri.
Stevie Kremer, burst on the U.S. trail running scene  with a few notable races in Colorado. She moved to Italy in 2012 and performed beyond expectations at Sierre-Zinal with an incredible second place. Stevie finished seventh in the World Mountain Running Championships 8.8K uphill race on Sept. 2 in Temu-Ponte di Legno, Italy, and then won the World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge at the 42.2K Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland the following weekend.
01:04:35 News
01:07:25 Brendan Davies not only won the TNF 100 in Australia but he broke Kilian Jornet’s two year old course record.
I live in the Blue Mountains and work in Western Sydney. In my day job, I am a Special Education school teacher; kids call me Mr D.  I’ve been a school teacher for over 10 years and love it. It has been both a very challenging and rewarding career thus far. But I am a runner, always have been and always will be. I have recently been selected on the International Inov-8 team – a dream come true which will take me wider and further than I ever thought, to some of the most spectacular places on Earth like Mt Fuji and Mt Blanc. Another great honour was to be named by my ultra running peers and the governing body of ultra running in Australia – AURA, as the 2012 Australian Ultra Runner of the Year.
01:20:06 Beth Cardelli topped the podium in the ladies race at TNF100.
I really only started running after being involved with my husbands 2007 Sydney Trailwakler Team. We had a pretty slow time and I knew I could do the distance a lot faster. Since then I have focused on becoming a better runner. HERE
01:32:50 Back to News
01:43:50 BlogRob Krar on iRunFar HERE
01:48:40 Talk Training with Mitch from Stride UK
02:12:55 Interview with Ultrapedestrian Ras – website HERE
I expound my ideas, experiences, philosophies and half-assed schemes simply as documentation of the immense blessing that is my life. I am uneducated and underemployed, and in many ways not what is typically considered a productive member of society, and my words should be understood within this context.
02:51:55 Meltzer Moment with Speedgoat
02:59:00 15 Min of Fame with Eric Browy

After throwing away a scholarship and getting kicked out of college for partying too much, my guest enlisted in the Army in June of 2002. As soon as he arrived at his unit, he was deployed to Iraq in the beginning of 2003, here he truly learned the meaning of what a Soldier was and more than anything that just because someone was not his blood they could be his brother. His brother had been killed when he was younger and he had gone through life not expecting to every have that relationship with anyone again. He found that in the Army. After returning home, with less people than we departed with he struggled while being back at Ft. Hood, He didn’t admit that he had any problems, It was a difficult thing for him to handle all of the loss that had happened while being deployed so he just “soldiered on” and self-medicated himself with alcohol and partying in my non-working hours. In 2005 he was deployed again and he was injured in March  2006. Team RWB HERE
03:23:25 Races
03:27:00 Close
03:27:40
Links:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/talkultra/Episode_36_UltrapedestrianRas_TNF100_Zegama_Eric_Browy.mp3

ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073

Libsyn – feed://talkultra.libsyn.com/rss

Website – talkultra.com