Cape Town - After almost 12 hours of hiking, running and climbing up Table Mountain, Cape Town trail runner Andre “AJ” Calitz broke the Guinness World Record for the “greatest vertical height climbing stairs in 12 hours”.
Calitz, a 30-year-old trail athlete, beat the record of American Chris Solarz, who climbed 48 flights of stairs at Logan Square, a 53-storey tower, in Philadelphia in 2011.
Calitz climbed Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge 14.5 times, a climb of 11 020m. The gorge consists of large rock steps for a distance of 2.1km.
The charity event was sponsored by K-Way.
Each lap was a distance of 5.5km, with 760m of climbing and took climbers an average of one-and-a-half hours to two hours to complete.
Platteklip Gorge is the most direct route to the top.
Once at the top of the mountain participants had the option of hiking or running to catch a lift down on the cable car before heading back to the start of the trail.
Calitz, however, had an advantage as he was transported by a car back to the starting point. He later traded the car for a scooter as Tafelberg Road began to get busier as the day went on.
“What a thrill. It’s been a once in a lifetime experience, a definite personal highlight. It’s been extremely tough with the hot weather and our tight schedule, which we wouldn’t have been able to stick to if it wasn’t for the helpful Table Mountain aerial cable way staff who did an excellent job of helping with holding the cable car for me.”
He said the timing had been especially important in making sure that he would finish on time and reach his goal.
“Timing was very tight and each lap was worked out to the minute so it was crucial to stick to the schedule. Between K-Way and the event organisers it was a brilliantly organised event, and we had awesome support from spectators – both those who came to support the participants as well as the tourists who spent this gorgeous day on Table Mountain.
“It was a perfect setting for a world record.”
The oldest participant, 69-year-old James Yates from Tokai, said he took part in the race with two of his friends and was aiming to complete four laps.
Just before noon, he had already completed two laps.
“It is going well today, this is my first Platteklip Challenge and I am doing it with three of my friends, we call ourselves the 200 club because our combined ages add up to 200.”
The money raised at the event supports Sinenjongo High school, in Joe Slovo near Milnerton, and the event has raised R630 000 to date.
The event relies on sponsors funding the competitors.