The Fastest Known Time (FKT) record for the Rhino Peak Challenge was smashed on Saturday by Kane Reilly, while the event set a new record for funds raised for wildlife conservation.
Reilly (pictured above by Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media) came into the trail run as record holder, and with hardly any wind blowing and clear and warm weather predicted for the tough outing, he fancied his chances of lowering the FKT for the 23.5km return trip from the Ezemvelo office above Drakensberg Gardens hotel to the Rhino Peak summit and back.
Having a fired up Johardt van Heerden for company – fuelling the fiercely rivalry between these two trail-running pacesetters this season – helped contribute to Reilly’s record-breaking run.
Reilly reached the summit of Rhino Peak two minutes clear of Van Heerden and enthused about the brutal ascent that had slowed down all the other fundraising athletes who left two hours earlier in the morning.
He then flew down the return leg to reach the finish in two hours and 17 minutes, shaving three minutes off his own record.
Toni McCann won the women’s elite race, completing the course in three hours and 11 minutes, with Naomi Brand in second.
The first non-elite athlete home was just as impressive. Thabo Madlala, a 37-year-old Underberg local, who is part of the Endangered Wildlife Trust Crane Conservation project operating in the area and one of the beneficiaries of the event, cantered into the finish in three hours and 27 minutes.
The event is a fundraiser involving elite athletes, people of influence and “everyday heroes”, each striving to raise money through personal pledges and offering an assortment of prizes to those who contribute.
Special moment for Andrew
Underberg local Andrew van Rensberg will not forget the event in a hurry as he raced with ultra-distance trail runner Ryan Sandes after winning the Salomon team competition.
In the previous years the event has raised a total of just more than R1 million, and this year’s record of R834 596, exceeded the previous annual fundraising record by a massive margin.
The event raises money for rhino conservation as well for the conservation of the endangered species that live in the Southern Drakensberg, like the Bearded Vulture and the various crane species.
For more information go to www.rhinopeakchallenge.co.za