Last year, as a first-time entrant, he ran, won and set a new course record at the annual K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge. Now, more seasoned and with numerous wins and race records notched in his belt, Andre ‘AJ’ Calitz has set himself a challenge: to better his record of 11 summits by one more. With the start at sunrise and the finish at sunset, Calitz has only 11 hours to ascend Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge a dozen times to achieve his goal. This means an accumulative elevation gain greater than the total height of Mt Everest from sea level.
Platteklip Gorge is a popular route used by both locals and visitors to climb to the top of Cape Town’s Table Mountain. The route up this steep passage has 800 double-size steps and many a visitor can relate to stopping more than once on their way up to catch their breath. Calitz won’t have this luxury with, as he says, his own record “begging to be broken”.
Platteklip ascends 760 metres from bottom to top, which puts 12 summits at an accumulative 9,120-metres – that’s almost 300-metres higher than Mt Everest from sea level to summit! At the top, participants run to the Cable Car, catching a ride to the bottom. Each lap is 5.5km in total and the ascent alone is a physically demanding route that takes one to two hours on fresh legs. It is this level of difficulty that makes this event worthy of being called a ‘challenge’. Most runners make three to six summits.
With this in mind, how will Calitz squeeze out another lap to reach his objective of 12 ascents?
As of this year Calitz is running full time – a professional athlete. He is putting more time into training, focusing on power and speed, which are both needed to get him through this Challenge.
“I have no specific plan other than to just run harder and faster,” he says. Calitz needs to make up five minutes per lap to fit in the 12th ascent.
“The easiest place to make up time is on the flat sections at the top of the mountain and the cable way,” he explains.
As a fundraising initiative for Sinenjongo High School, the K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge raised R500,000 for the school in 2012 – and they aim to better this contribution this year. Donations are linked to runner profiles from the ‘Sponsor’ tab on the event website. By sponsoring a runner, donors contribute to the fund for the school, which is located in the impoverished community of Joe Slovo Park, in the Milnerton suburb.
Despite its lack of facilities and resources – no hall, library, staff room nor sports facilities – this school has lifted its matric pass rate from 27% in 2008 to 90% in 2011. Last year 77 matrics passed – double that of the previous year – with 56 qualifying for tertiary education.
The K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge starts at 07h00 on Saturday, 6 April 2013. Throughout the day spectators can cheer on the runners ascending Platteklip Gorge and from the cable car stations. The Challenge ends at sunset – 18h00. Sponsor runners and keep up with event news through the event website at www.charitychallenge.co.za.
- Event: K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge
- Date: Saturday, 6 April 2013
- Start: 07h00 at the lower cable station
- Finish: 18h00
- Number of entrants: limited to 175 (team and solo entries)
- Record: 11 summits, set by Andre Calitz in 2012
- Route: From the lower cable station, along Tafelberg road, up Platteklip Gorge and across the table to the upper cable station. Runners get a free lift down in the cable car and then they start again. The distance is 5.5km with 760m of climbing for each lap. This will take most runners approximately 90 minutes on average.
- Website: www.charitychallenge.co.za