Words & Photo: Lisa de Speville
This weekend the Grabouw area will reverberate with the sound of footfalls as hundreds of runners take part in the three-day Pronutro AfricanX Trailrun. Some participate for the pure enjoyment of running; others seek the challenge of staged running; and others, like the pair of AJ Calitz and Bernard Rakudza, are out there to win.
For K-Way athlete AJ Calitz and teammate Bernard Rakudza, this won't be a scenic vacation. Running against defending champs Michael Bailey and Ben Brimble and other competitive pairs, they're in for three days of flat-out, competitive racing.
"I met Bernie at the Two Oceans Trail a couple of years ago," says Calitz. "He totally dominates the shorter trail scene in the Western Cape to win just about everything less than 25 kilometres. He got a third in the Peninsula Marathon three weeks ago."
When asked what Rakudza brings to the partnership that he lacks on his own Calitz answers with one word: " Speeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed!".
Calitz is at home on long, tough courses with gruelling uphills - this is where his strength and skills really come into play. His abilities will be underutilised at AfricanX, although he's looking forward to Stage 2, which begins with an eight-kilometre climb to the top of the Gantouw Pass and has an accumulated 1,100 metres of climb over the 33-kilometre stage distance.
"The race is won or lost on Stage 2," he explains.
Calitz describes AfricanX as "a fast man and not a strong man's race". This is where he'll lean on Rakudza to give them the edge.
"He's fast. I hope I can keep up!"
Over the past few months Calitz has tweaked his training by signing up with a coach, who is helping him with nutrition too.
"I've lost a lot of weight since last year and this should help me to run faster and climb stronger."
Calitz isn't the only K-Way athlete lined up for this three-day race. Annemien Ganzevoort will run in a mixed pair with her friend, Hector Viljoen.
"We're both positive and keen to have fun and enjoy the race. He’s quite a fast runner and I'd say our level of fitness is more or less the same, so we won’t frustrate each other," she says.
This is her first time running in this race; and her first three-day staged run. To get through each stage and to be prepared for next one Ganzevoort's strategy includes "good food, good company and good sleep".
The 2014 edition of ProNutro AfricanX Trailrun presented by New Balance starts on Friday, 14 March 2014 and can be following online through the event's Facebook page and on Twitter.
Date: 14 - 16 March 2014
Format: Three-day stage race / teams of two (male/female/mixed)
Venue: Houw Hoek Inn, W. Cape.
Distance: Three stages: 32km, 33km and 25km
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