K-Way sponsors trail runner Andre Calitz

Trail runner Andre Calitz is blitzing the local trail running scene as he wins – and sets new records – on challenging courses.

Last year, 29-year old Calitz - known as ‘AJ’ in trail running circles - won the Three Peaks Challenge, taking 16 minutes off the previous record. He has triumphed at numerous local runs including the Muizenberg Trail where he set the course record.
This year he ascended Table Mountain’s Platteklip Gorge a record 11 times between sunrise and sunset to win the K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge. His most-recent win comes at the two-day Grootvadersbosch Trail Run, where he set new records on both days, and firmly establishes Calitz as a fast, record-setting trail runner to watch.

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.

“I first met AJ at the registration evening before the K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge. I’d seen him win the Three Peaks Challenge the year before, so knew of his ability,” says Nick Bennett, marketing manager for K-Way.

“When I chatted to him, I quickly realised just how passionate Andre was about trail running, which is more important to us than ability - although a combination of the two, which he has, is a bonus,” he adds.

Calitz’s sponsorship from K-Way includes both funding and product. “Race entry fees can be expensive – and that’s without travel, accommodation and meals. The cash goes straight into events and it enables me to compete in races that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do,” he explains.

“When I started out doing trail races I was teased because I was the least kitted-out runner even wearing Poly Shorts and tee shirts,” he laughs. “Now I’m the most kitted-out runner with my K-Way gear and apparel.” Every week after training and races he sends feedback to K-Way on the products he’s used for their R&D department.

His favourite item for everyday training, especially during the wet Cape winter is his red K-Way Mercury Shell Jacket. “It has the most amazing cuff locks to keep out the wet and wind. In weather when everyone else stays inside I whip out this bad boy and go for a run. It’s waterproof, windproof and breathable so it keeps me warm and dry,” he explains.

For racing he favours the K-Way Rayleigh Active Shorts, which K-Way customised by shortening the length slightly. “In trail running littering is not on and these shorts have two zip pockets that I use to hold the wrappers from gels and foods,” he adds.

With Spring on the way Calitz’s racing schedule is filling up. He’ll run PUFFER for the first time on 25 August. This is an 80-kilometre route from Cape Point to the Waterfront. Next is the 19-kilometre Rooikat Trail Run near McGregor, on 1 September, which he won last year and then the 37-kilometre Crazy Store Table Mountain Challenge on 15 September.

These races lead him towards one of the most competitive races in South Africa, The Otter African Trail Run, which is held in mid-October. This 42-kilometre route follows the iconic hiking trail and for the first time the race will be run in the reverse direction; from the ‘finish’ to the ‘start’.

Approachable and friendly, Calitz is a fleet-footed, focused and competitive trail runner. “AJ has only been competing in the sport of trail running for 18 months and his results clearly demonstrate his ability,” says Bennett. “We’re behind him 100% and can’t wait to see how he runs against other competitive athletes at PUFFER and The Otter African Trail Run.”