AJ Calitz tames the beast at Red Bull Lion Heart

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Nick Muzik/Red Bull Content Pool

AJ Calitz tames the beast at Red Bull Lion Heart

Seasoned trail runner AJ Calitz became the first ever winner of Red Bull Lion Heart this weekend after an intensive and exhausting two-day event on a 4.4km course leading over the famous Lion’s Head in South Africa’s Table Mountain National Park.

The event, the brainchild of ultra trail runner and super-athlete Ryan Sandes, is the first of its kind in the world, let alone on the mountain. Thirty-two men and eight women ran the gruelling 4.4km course from bottom to top and back down in a round-for-round knockout format, with AJ Calitz taking top spot ahead of Michael Bailey, Ryan Sandes and Bernard Rakudza.The finals on Saturday were preceded by a qualification round on Friday which saw 150 runners take on the 2.2km prologue course. The fastest 32 men and 8 women then progressed to the final showdown.
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“The toughest part for me was going up the first section – I’m a mountain runner and that section was way out of my comfort zone,” commented AJ Calitz after the race. “I’m quite familiar with the course but the heat format, which is very different from other trail races, made it more exciting not only for us out there on the mountain but for the spectators too.”

Ryan Sandes completed the race in third and was incredibly happy with how the event turned out. “I’m stoked! Personally, today was challenging because I didn’t quite have the gas in my legs on the uphills, so I had to make up some time on the way down. The day panned out exactly how I envisioned it. Well done to AJ for a great run – he stood out from the beginning,” he commented.

The women’s race was won in spectacular fashion by Carla van Huyssteen, with Katia Soggart and Landie Greyling coming in second and third respectively.

Results: Men: 1st AJ Calitz, 2nd Michael Bailey, 3rd Ryan Sandes

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Women: 1st Carla van Huyssteen, 2nd Katya Soggot, 3rd Landie Greyling

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