Two K-Way athletes are in France for the 5th IAU Trail World Championships, which take place on Saturday. AJ Calitz and Nicolette Griffioen, together with their South African teammates and runners from 38 other countries, make up the 287 participant count for this gruelling 85 kilometre run.
The IAU Trail World Championship is held annually and this year the event is hosted by France. The 85 kilometre race starts in the town of Annecy, which lies at the northern end of Lake Annecy. The route climbs into the mountains only a few kilometres from the start and circles the lake, taking in the surrounding summits for an accumulated 5,200 metres of vertical ascent over the course distance.
Although Calitz has competed abroad before, this is 22-year old Griffioen’s first time in Europe and first international race. She is the newest member of K-Way’s athlete family.
She has had a strong year already with wins at the Buffelspoort XTERRA and the Ultra Tail Mount Moodie 80km in January and a strong second place at the recent 32km Molweni Trail Run. Griffioen crossed the line only 20 seconds off the race winner.
“Annecy is really beautiful – both the mountains and the town,” she says.
Griffioen is expecting the course to be technical and tough with unrelenting climbs and descents and with very few flat sections.
“Our team manager, Altus Schreuder, went to see sections of the course on Wednesday. He returned saying that ‘a proper world champs’ awaits us and that the course is ‘definitely not boring’,” she adds.
“My goal is to finish the race only,” Griffioen says. “Being my first international race, I don’t know any of my competition except my South African teammates; I have no idea how I’ll place. I’m testing the waters to gain experience.”
With a 03h30 start, it is a given that the temperature in the very early morning will be chilly. The weather on Saturday is predicted to be sunny during the day. The runners can see snow on the peaks of the mountains surrounding the lake from their hotel; they’re expecting unpredictable conditions on the summits and know that cold and wind up high is almost guaranteed.
“I am going to go out relaxed, enjoy the views and see if I feel good enough after halfway to pull back some ladies,” she says.
Calitz and Griffioen’s Team South Africa teammates include Eric Ngubane, Graeme McCallum, Iain Don-Wauchope, Jock Green, Chantel Nienaber and Su Don-Wauchope. There is a team competition element where accumulated results count towards selecting a winning country.
• Event: 5th IAU Trail World Championships (run on the Tecnica MaXi-Race® course)
• Date: Saturday, 30 May 2015
• Venue: Annecy, France
• Start time: 03h30 (France is currently GMT +2, same as South Africa)
• Distance: 85 kilometres
• Vertical gain: 5,300 metres
• Number of participants: 178 men and 109 women (287 total)
• Number of countries represented: 39 for the World Champs
• Course Records: Men: Sebastien Spehler (FRA), 8:45; Women: Caroline Chaverot (FRA), 10:15
• Website: www.worldtrail2015.com
• Start list: on IAU website (http://iau-ultramarathon.org/images/file/StartList_IAU_TrailWC.pdf)
• Follow online during the race – live splits: maxirace.livetrail.net (this looks like the page where splits will appear – use the ‘Following’ tab – maxirace.livetrail.net/teteCourse.php)
• Facebook: Trail Run SA – https://www.facebook.com/TrailRunSouthAfrica?ref=ts&fref=ts