On World Rhino Day, the 22nd of September 2015, a small group of South Africa’s finest Trail Runners were asked to ascend the iconic Rhino Peak in the Southern Region of the Maloti Drakensberg World Heritage Site.
While establishing new FKT’s (Fastest Known Times) for the Rhino was a partial objective the main focus was to raise awareness, in a unique way, to the plight of Rhinos as well as the other endangered habitant of the Rhino Peak itself, the Bearded Vulture. These two very different creatures are a powerful symbol for South Africa’s threatened species and having these elite runners doing something special on the only Peak over 3000m in the world that resembles a Rhino sent an unprecedented message on behalf of the conservation community.
While the 2015 event was relatively low-key it garnered a significant amount of interest on Social Media and other platforms and it became immediately apparent that the Rhino Peak Challenge had genuine traction and the potential to make a real difference. In light of this it was decided to make the Rhino Peak Challenge an annual event and to elevate its status significantly from 2016 onwards.
Photos by Huck Orban
This year, on the 22nd September, 12 of South Africa’s top Trail Runners together with 12 influential people from all walks of life will take part in the Rhino Peak Challenge. The plan is to raise, not only awareness, but funds as well through the participation of these 24 people. All 24 will be asked to leverage their own significant Social Media profiles to generate pledges that will be linked to the time it takes them to complete the Rhino Peak Challenge. The pledges will be multiplied by the number of minutes that each of the 24 is under their goal time. The elite runners will have set cut-offs but the 12 ‘VIP’s’ will be able to set their own cut-off times.
Photos by Huck Orban
In 2015 Johardt van Heerden and AJ Calitz managed an FKT for the Rhino of 2 hrs 45 min and Tracy Zunckel and Su Don-Wauchope pulled off a FKT of 3 hrs 25 min. This year the idea is to set a cut-off of 3 hrs 30 min for the men and 4 hrs for the ladies. Each pledge that every runner receives will be multiplied by the number of minutes they are under the respective cut-off. So for instance, if Johardt ran a 2 hrs 45 min again then all his pledges would be multiplied by 45 (minutes).
Each runner and VIP will have their profile uploaded to the website and their pledges will be visible on their own Pledge page.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is the official beneficiary of the event and all funds raised will be divided on a 50/50 basis between their EWT Sniffer Dog Programme and the EWT Bearded Vulture Captive Breeding Programme. The reason that the funds will be divided in this manner is that the Rhino Peak itself is home to some of the last Bearded Vultures in the area and the species is now critically endangered. It is believed that the concept of two threatened species working together to save each other will capture the imagination.
– You decide on the amount you would like to pledge for each minute that the participant is under their goal time
– On submission of your pledge you will receive a confirmation email with details of the pledge you have made
– Shortly after Rhino Peak Challenge has taken place you will receive an email with details of how all the participants met the challenge as well as details of how to make payment of the amount due for your pledge.
– Should the participant you selected be unable to take part in or complete the Rhino Peak Challenge under their goal time then all their pledges will be multiplied by a default factor of 10
– Lucky’s goal time is 210 minutes and he completes the challenge in 165 minutes, therefore his pledge factor is 45 (the number of minutes the challenge was completed under the goal time)
– All of Lucky’s pledges will be multiplied by the pledge factor of 45
– If you pledged ZAR 10 then you will donate ZAR 450 in support of the Rhino Peak Challenge beneficiary the Endangered Wildlife Trust
Visit the Participants page to see who is taking part and to view / make a pledge.