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.