South African trail runner, AJ Calitz, has finally broken his K-WAY SkyRun curse, by taking the title crown on his 6th attempt in a time of 15hrs18min30sec. Following just over one minute behind AJ, the closest 2nd place in recent years, was recently crowned South African trail running champ, Stewart Chaperon in a time of 15hrs19min43sec, and local athlete Hylton Dunn in 3rd in 15hrs28min33sec. Nepalese runner, Sange Sherpa, took 4th 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, the K-WAY SkyRun has proved that it can cope with anything thrown in its path, including the running of what many athletes are saying was a far more brutal course and temperatures reaching over 40 degrees.
“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 3 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 our 100km route the lead position changed more than 8 times throughout the race! We are thrilled that K-Way Athlete, AJ Calitz, took podium position in the first year that K-WAY has come on board as title sponsor!”
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 20hrs46min04sec, followed by a tie for 3rd place some 5hrs later between Kate Birkett and Sofia Ackerman in 25hrs07min54sec. “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 11hrs19min51sec. “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 11hrs39min59sec, and 3rd to Barry Maitland-Stuart in a time of 11hrs47min30sec.
The first lady over the 65km line was Ritza Fouche in 13hrs11min16sec, with Do-Jo Jordaan in 2nd place in 14hrs01min07sec and Candice Eb taking 3rd place in 14hrs41min40sec.
Website – skyrun.co.za
Facebook – SkyRun
- AJ Calitz 15hrs18min30sec
- Stewart Chaperon 15hrs19min43sec
- Hylton Dunn 15hrs28min33sec
- Tracy Zunckel 20hrs46min04sec
- Tarrin van Niekerk 20hrs46min04sec
- Kate Birkett 25hrs07min54sec
- Sampie Makoekoe 11hrs19min51sec
- Skippy Claassens 11hrs39min59sec
- Barry Mailtland-Stuart 11hrs47min30sec
- Ritza Fouche 13hrs11min16sec
- Do-Jo Jordaan 14hrs01min07sec
- Candice Eb 14hrs41min40sec
- Grobler Basson 4hrs41min44sec
- Mpaki Moolmanshoek 4hrs41min44sec
- Quintin van Heerden 5hrs26min03sec