Are you a trail runner on the hunt for adventure and that something out of the ordinary? Well, the Cathedral Peak Challenge in the Drakensberg Mountains provides the challenge you have been yearning for. Any and all runners are invited to take up the Challenge, and all that stands between you and your share of the cash prizes totalling R100,000 is the time you take to complete it, but this is also so much more than just a race to the top!
English poet William Blake wrote, “Great things are done when men and mountains meet,” and the Cathedral Peak Challenge invites everyone who thinks they’re up to conquering the Peak’s summit to push themselves to new heights. Running for four months from 1 June to 30 September 2018, the Challenge presents a wonderful opportunity to embrace winter training and mountain running while being able to connect with one of South Africa’s most glorious mountains in one of the most beautiful areas of KwaZulu-Natal.
At 3004m, Cathedral Peak is one of the most popular peaks in the Drakensberg, and was first climbed by D W Bassett-Smith and R G Kingdon in 1917. The new Challenge, conceptualised by the owner of the Cathedral Peak Hotel, William Van Der Riet, is a 20.7km up-and-down round trip with 1531m of climbing, starting at the Hotel and using a a well-worn path to Orange Peel Gap, along a ridge and up Bugger Gully. The route winds along a fairly clear path, but the final stretch to the summit is steep, exposed and can be treacherous at times. Once you have reached the summit, take a moment to celebrate, but remember the clock is running and the view should be not be enjoyed for too long, as you will still need to navigate the route down.
And here’s the best part – you can enter and complete the Challenge as many times as you wish. If you aren’t quite happy with your first attempt, you can come back and try again… and again… and again… until the final day of the Challenge on 30 September. (Note: This route takes up to 10 hours for a normal day hike, but running times are considerably faster.)
Let's Get Started
At the launch of the Challenge on 10 May, some of the biggest names in South African trail running were in action to set the initial times to beat. Meg 'Jet Shoes' Mackenzie, one of SA's top female runners, completed the challenge in a brilliant 2 hours and 53 minutes for the fastest time on the day, with the rest of the top 5 times posted by Perfect Dlamini (3:04), Thomas van Tonder (3:08), Greg Avierinos (3:24) and Sue Don-Wauchope (3:27).
Other well-known elite trail runners in action were Iain Don-Wauchope, Tracy Zunckel, Bennie Roux and Nikki Booyens, while various other VIPs, celebs and journo's also joined the day’s proceedings. Even reigning Mrs South Africa, Nicole Capper, took on the mountain. So, why all the fuss about a mountain? For hotel owner William, the Cathedral Peak Challenge is not just a call to beat or overcome the mountain, it’s an invitation for South Africans to reclaim the spiritual loss caused by a modern lifestyle.
“Here at Cathedral Peak Hotel, we’ve been witnessing a worrying trend over the last decade or so. Whilst we always have an abundance of guests coming here to escape city life, sadly, fewer people are actually engaging with nature on their visit. Guests can choose from 18 different walks and hikes, ranging from gentle strolls down the riverside to scaling the summit of Cathedral Peak itself, and every single one of these outings is complimentary, so why come all the way here, only to stay on the premises?” he questions.
In his search for the answer, William says he has made it his mission to encourage guests to harness the beauty and energy of the stunning natural surroundings as a remedy to the chaos and stress of city life. “What we’re aiming to achieve with The Challenge cannot be accomplished in a single day. We wanted to offer something more than just a once-off experience. That’s also why it’s running over four months. We want people to come back time and again. And no, they don’t have to stay at the hotel, they’re welcome to just come and connect with what is the highest free-standing peak in South Africa’s revered Mountain of Dragons.”
So, do you have what it takes to #ChallengeYourself? For more information and to register for the Cathedral Peak Challenge, click on the link below