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.
In 2016, in line with the plan to launch off the foundation of 2015, the participants in the Rhino Peak Challenge (RPC) were increased to 2 teams of 12. The first group consisted of 12 of SA’s Elite Trail Runners and the second group comprised of Persons of Influence (POI’s) from the world of Sport, Conservation and Entertainment. Using the FKT’s established in 2015 of 2hr45 and 3hr25 the Elite Men and Ladies were given cut-off times of 3hr30 and 4hrs respectively for their runs while the POI’s were allowed to set their own goal times.
A system was then set up whereby each runner had a profile on the event website and the public was able to pledge an amount on one or more of their chosen participants. This pledge was then linked to the runner’s cut-off or goal time by means of a multiplication factor. So for example, if someone pledged R10 on a runner and that runner then ran 20 minutes under their goal time then the pledge would be multiplied by a factor of 20.
The day went off extremely well despite the gale force winds. New FKT’s of 2hr34 and 2hr45 were established by Rory Scheffer and Holly Page and all of the participants raised substantial amounts of money totalling nearly R 300,000.
After the success of 2016 the same core model was adopted on a permanent basis with a few minor changes.
The first of the two changes was the implementation of a maximum pledge factor of 45 and a minimum of 10. This meant that anyone who ran faster than 45min under their goal time had their multiplication factor capped at 45 and anyone who missed their goal time or were unable to complete the challenge had their pledge multiplied by a minimum of 10.
The second change was the offer of lucky draw prizes by the participants for anyone who pledged on them. Thus anyone who made a pledge would go into a draw for the prize that the person on whom they pledged had offered.
This model is now the current format for the RPC.
The benchmark goal times for the Elite runners were based on the times that were achieved in the inaugural trial run 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.
Based on the above FKT’s the goal times for the Elites were set at 3 hrs 30 min for the men and 4 hrs for the ladies. Each pledge that every participant receives will be multiplied by the number of minutes they are under their respective goal time. So for instance, if Johardt runs a 2 hrs 45 min then all his pledges would be multiplied by 45 (minutes), this means that if you had pledged R1 on Johardt you would be liable for a R45 donation.
The Persons Of Influence get to choose their own goal time based on their abilities and the same pledge formula applies.
Each of the Elite Runners and the Persons Of Influence will have their profile uploaded to the website and their pledges will be visible on their own Pledge page.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and Wildlife ACT (WACT) are the official beneficiaries of the event and all funds raised will be divided on a 50/50 basis between them and will be used on projects focussed on Rhino and Vulture conservation and, wherever possible, on such projects where the efforts of the EWT and WACT overlap. The RPC will also donate 10% of the total funds raised to the local Garden Castle branch of EKZNW as the host and custodian of the Rhino Peak itself.
The reason that the funds will be divided between Rhinos and Bearded Vultures 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
– Should the participant’s pledge factor (the number of minutes the challenge was completed under the goal time) exceed 45 it will be capped at 45
– Rory’s goal time is 210 minutes and he completes the challenge in 175 minutes, therefore his pledge factor is 35 (the number of minutes the challenge was completed under the goal time)
– All of Rory’s pledges will be multiplied by the pledge factor of 35
– If you pledged ZAR 10 then you will donate ZAR 350 in support of the Rhino Peak Challenge beneficiary the Endangered Wildlife Trust
Please Note: there is a minimum pledge multiplication factor of 10 and a maximum factor of 45