It takes bravery to take on the gruelling Red Bull LionHeart trail running event, which was held on the Lion’s Head mountain this past weekend, Saturday 9 November. But it was AJ Calitz who proved to bear the heart of a lion once again, after scooping this year’s 2013 Red Bull LionHeart title.
Created last year by trail running extraordinaire Ryan Sandes in his ‘back yard’ to celebrate the rare opportunities Cape Town has to offer trail runners, the 200 selected participants had to motivate why they, themselves, are lionhearted. Read our features writer, Ian McNaught Davis’ tearjerker: Red Bull Lion Heart Motivational.
Of the nearly 200 participants, the field was hewed down to the top 32 men and 12 women in a 3, 7km time trial around the base of the mountain. But that wasn’t the end. The remaining 44 contestants had to take on a 4,4 km route from the base of Lion’s Head to the top, and back down again – until the lionheart roared to victory.
It was AJ Calitz and Landi Greyling who proved to indeed have lionhearts. AJ Calitz scooped victory in the men’s final, finishing a mere 11 seconds ahead of Thabang Madiba in a time of 26:46 – shaving 30 seconds off his record from last year and retaining his title. (Psst, here’s AJ Calitz’s Training Secrets.) “I know how fast Kane & Michael climb, but also know Thabang goes downhill at the speed of gravity. My strategy was to attack on the climbs, so I was comfortable with the lead I had on Michael at the top, but when I saw the gap on Thabang I was really worried it wasn’t enough,” said Calitz, realising what a close finish it was. “This is a fun race and unique in the way that it brings trail running to the people. There are not many spectator-based races where average Joe’s can get to see guys like Ryan Sandes in action.”
It was Landi Greyling’s final run of 32:07 that secured her victory in the women’s final. “This is always a great run at the end of the year – a sort of trail run year-end function – and the vibe and weather was awesome today. My biggest challenge was to plan my strategy throughout the heats. I decided to go hard from the gun and it looked like it worked out. I feel very privileged & blessed to come out on top,” said Greyling when asked about the race.
The men’s final results: AJ Calitz (1st); Thabang Madiba (2nd); Michael Bailey (3rd); Ryan Sandes (4th); Kane Reilly (5th); Christiaan Greyling (6th); Nicholas Rupanga (7th) and Morne Van Greunen (8th).