AJ Calitz Soars To SkyRun Victory
South African trail runner, AJ Calitz, has finally broken his K-WAY SkyRun curse, by taking the title crown on his sixth attempt in a time of 15:18:30.
Following just over one minute behind AJ, the closest second place in recent years, was recently crowned South African trail running champ, Stewart Chaperon in a time of 15:19:43, and local athlete Hylton Dunn in third in 15:28:33sec. Nepalese runner, Sange Sherpa, took fourth place keeping alive the urban legend that no foreigner is able to take winning position at SkyRun.
“That was a very hard race, it’s probably the worst I have ever felt whilst running,” says AJ Calitz. “But after Balloch I started feeling stronger and really believed that if I could just keep pushing I could do it! I am thrilled to finally have won this iconic race!”
After a last minute decision to have to change the course route due to violent service delivery protesting in Lady Grey, including the running of what many athletes are saying was a far more brutal course and temperatures reaching over 40 degrees – the K-WAY SkyRun continued as planned.
“In a year that has seen several of the country’s biggest ultra-endurance races cancelled for various reasons, we feel very proud that we were able to change the route and our start location less than three days before the start of the race and see some of the most incredibly nail-biting racing from our elite athletes,” says race organiser Mike de Haast from Pure Adventures.
In another race first, leading ladies Tracy Zunckel and Tarrin van Niekerk, who won the K-Way SkyRun 65km two years ago, finished in a tie in 20:46:04, followed by a tie for third place some five hours later between Kate Birkett and Sofia Ackerman in 25:07:54. “Nothing about this race is about winning – it’s about survival,” says Tracy Zunckel. “It was absolutely brutal, the altitude, the climbing, the heat, but you get to meet some magnificent people, who sacrifice for each other to get to the finish, which was just amazing!”
Sampie Makoekoe, a SkyRun stalwart, took first place in the 65km race in a time of 11:19:51. “I had a great run today, the weather was very warm, but I felt good and strong,” says Sampie. “I lost the route for a short while, but luckily I felt strong when I caught back up with everyone and was able to push ahead to take first place.” Second place went to Skippy Claassens in a time of 11:39:59, and third to Barry Maitland-Stuart in a time of 11:47:30.
The first lady over the 65km line was Ritza Fouche in 13:11:16, with Do-Jo Jordaan in second place in 14:01:07 and Candice Eb taking third place in 14:41:40.
For more information, visit skyrun.co.za.