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.
We are please to announce that we will be adding a 3rd Team of 12 to the 2019 RPC as well as making some changes to the structure of the Elite team of 12. This new Team will be a Corporate Team and will consist of 6 pairs of runners/hikers who will be representing a brand on the day. The concept is to tap into the power of the corporate world and hopefully raise significant funds via this method. The second change is that the number of Elites in the Elite team will be reduced from 12 to 4 and we have decided to give the opportunity to 8 Everyday Heroes to join this team. The Everyday Heroes are just ‘normal’ folk from all walks of life who want to be part of the RPC and, most importantly, have committed to raising R50K for the cause. Please contact us if you think you might be an Everyday Hero candidate and would like to be considered for one of the 8 Everyday Hero slots.
We have decided to simplify the pledge process this year and have done away with the method of linking the pledge amounts to the runner’s time on the mountain. Although this system served us well it did also create some confusion and, we believe, was occasionally a barrier to potential pledgers. So, from 2019 all pledges will simply be a flat amount that is pledged on the candidate of your choice with the only condition being that the candidate must successfully complete the RPC. For example, if you pledge R200 on Elite Runner A and they complete the RPC then you will be required to pay your R200 via the designated payment portal after the event. We hope that this simpler pledge structure will encourage more people to pledge on a participant at the RPC.
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.