AJ Calitz is mostly known for his love of climbing (running) up mountains as a professional trail runner. However, his surf dream of visiting Indo with friends finally came to fruition this year. Here’s what he had to say about the surf with his best mate …
Running to Meet the Waves
Most people associate me with trail running. As much as that is my passion, career and daily exercise routine – my absolute “down time” is spent in the water, surfing. I started surfing 15 years ago. Pretty much since day one I have wanted to go to Indo ... the mecca of Surfing.
The Indo Dream
Living in Melkbosstrand has its perks, but ice-cold water unfortunately dogs us most of the year! The dream of Indo has always been on the horizon. But as life goes on, other dreams and realities happen – getting married, buying a house, having kids and surviving a stroke all ate into the Indo bucket list. After many postponements and cancellations, my best mate (Jacques) and I finally put family, work and worries aside and spent nearly three weeks in surfing paradise.
A Warm Welcome
The heat almost knocks you out as you step out of the airport in Den Passer. Thankfully the taxi was wonderfully air-conditioned and the stoke started building for the first session.
Arriving at Bingin (at the top of the cliff, with MASSIVE boardbags, suitcases, 35'C heat and 100% humidity) was ... interesting. Even our friendship was tested by these elements. But soon all was well as we caught our first surfs in tropical waters and shared the feeling of scoring the best waves of our lives for many a session.
(H4) Traveling Bali
For the next 19 days we travelled around the Bali Peninsula (and Nusa Lembongan) to experience the best that Bali had to offer - and offer she did!
We surfed every single day we were there! It felt so strange not to have to change a nappy, put a child to bed, cook dinner or plan my next long run. I would wake up and just think SURF. Some days we did 6 to 7-hour sessions, other days only an hour or two as our arms were completely poked! Now my legs are used to some serious endurance running (8 to15-hour races) but this was like boot camp for those “running” arms.
And my body took a scrape or two from the reef. I do not recommend duct taping it to avoid chafing – but what choice did I have as plasters simply fell off and I was not prepared to give up surf for wounds to dry.
Meeting the Hero
When we planned and booked our trip – we did not even realise that we would be in the Keramas the same time as the WSL Bali contest.
It was amazing to “camp out” and stay amongst these surf heroes and legends we get to follow online as they compete and surf worldwide.
But here we were standing and watching the Corona Bali Protected finals LIVE and in PERSON – not on a WSL catch-up app.
What was even more special was meeting Kelly Slater after his semi-final. I really look up to him as an athlete - still competing at the age of 47 and going strong with the youngsters. True inspiration.
Surfing as friends
Travelling, surfing, eating and staying together was truly incredible. It made even more so by getting stoked when your mate has a cooker of a wave/barrel, did a nice turn or taken a heavy beating!
It’s the stuff that true friendships are made of - funny how some of my best memories are all of surf trips with mates - surfing, hanging out and just doing life together.
Although surfing alone is soul food, it is much better shared with close friends.
So why not head out and catch a wave with a good friend or simply share the stoke by signing up for our newsletter.