Conditions test Rhino Peak Challenge athletes

As if the 21km of the 2018 Rhino Peak Challenge was not difficult enough, sleet, hail, wind and rain made race conditions even tougher for competitors on World Rhino Day, Saturday, 22 September.

Two groups of 10 elite athletes and 10 people of interest set off up the iconic Rhino Peak aiming to raise as much money for endangered species.

Ultimately R352 888 was the final number raised for endangered species, just under R50 000 more than was raised at the same vent last year.

Chaotic

The chaotic weather meant that the challenge for the Fastest Known Time was always going to be a big ask, however Mlungiso Mazibuko (pictured top) did his best and fell just seven minutes short of Kane Reilly’s record.

He was closely followed by former Fastest Known Time holder Rory Scheffer, who finished two minutes behind Mazibuko, while Rob Rorich was a further minute back in third.

Toni McCann manages a smile despite the harsh weather conditions as she powers her way to victory in the ladies race at the 2018 Rhino Peak Challenge on Saturday. Picture: Chantelle Melzer/Gameplan Media

The ladies contest was a one-sided affair with Toni McCann striding into sixth place overall in a time of three hours and five minutes. She was 22 minutes ahead of second place lady Naomi Brand.

Top athletes lined up for 2018 Rhino Peak Challenge

Renowned adventurer Sibusiso Vilane took a philosophical view on the day and the conditions that the participants were presented with.

“It was definitely a challenge, but that’s what you want from something like this,” he said.

“You could look at it in two ways, either moaning and not enjoying yourself, or embracing the challenge and try to make the most of the day.

“I think that in the first two hours we had every type of weather you could think of.”

Appreciate the scenery

Vilane wanted to try to make the most of his day in the Southern Drakensberg.

“I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t spend too much time at the top as I was getting cold so I needed to get back down.

“When I got into the safety of the valleys on the way down I managed to take a breath and actually appreciate the scenery.”

The Rhino Peak Challenge funds will go to the Rhino Conservation Project, Maloti Drakensberg Vulture Project, Wildlife ACT and the Drakensberg Crane Project.

Summary of results – elite athletes

1.Mlungiso Mazibuko – 147mins
2.Rory Scheffer – 149 mins
3.Robbie Rorich – 150mins
4.Kwenza Ngubane – 158mins
5.Philip Shezi – 161mins
6.Toni McCann – 185mins
7.Lucas Adams – 198mins
8.Naomi Brand – 207mins

People of Interest
1.Andrew Houston – 171mins
2.Sean Brookes – 227mins
3.Jo Maree – 239mins
4.Sian Bester – 253mins
5.Sibusiso Vilane – 265mins
More information can be found at www.rhinopeakchallenge.co.za
*Main picture: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media