A new FKT (Fastest Known Time) was set this weekend (Saturday, 28 July 2018) when the men’s standing record held by elite athlete Christiaan Greyling was broken by Teboho Noosi. He beat Greyling’s time by just over 7 minutes, finishing in an incredible 2 hours 22 minutes and 49 seconds. Noosi, who is new to the sport – this is his second trail running race and his first mountain run – flew up the mountain reaching the summit in just 1 hour 28 minutes. Commenting on his triumphant and unexpected finish, Noosi says he will definitely be returning to defend, if not break, his time in the final race of the series on 22 September.
Saturday was the third in the Cathedral Peak series of five events and it was a picture-perfect day for trail running with race conditions that can only be described as idyllic; chilly to start but windless. The clear skies added to the awe-inspiring beauty of the course and the intensity of the blue skies were in stark contrast to the majesty of the mountains. The field of 30 set off at 8:00am and the minute the race start bell peeled through the crags of the Cathedral Peak Mountains, it was clear that Noosi was intent on dominating the race. A citizen of Lesotho, Noosi says he trains for no less than three hours a day.
Noosi says it was a tough event adding that his downhill run was marred by a degree of pain in his legs. “I only started trail running last year but when I run – I win. On my decent I just had to push myself to keep going.” With a belief system that upholds his ability to win, a strict training discipline, and a natural athletic talent, Noosi has all but put the men’s contest to bed.
The R100 000 prize purse put up by the race organisers – Cathedral Peak Hotel – will be split between the winners of the three race categories, including the fastest male, female and mixed team of two. The competitive field is deep and the leader board is packed with accomplished runners all battling it out for the title and after Saturday, the pressure to take the men’s title has been intensified by Noosi’s really strong finish.
Pretoria resident, Louis Le Grange, finished in 2 hours fifty seven minutes putting him in second place and seventh on the series’ leader board in the men’s category. Five minutes later, Mike Nash crossed the finish line putting him right behind Le Grange on the leader board in eighth place.
Speaking about the enormity of the race Le Grange says, “It’s a different kind of challenge – a battle that is fought and won in the mind. I loved it and would definitely come back and face the mountain again. I encourage every South African to give it a go – it’s really worth it.”
In the ladies’ race it was Michelle Davis who took home the honours in a time of five hours five minutes. This earned her fourth place on the overall leader board. Another three runners from the 28 July event also clawed their way onto the leader board, including Sonja Thomas who finished second in five hours eight minutes and is now lying fifth overall. She is followed by Janine Bewsey who is in eighth position and Nadia Badenhorst is tenth.
Davis was in awe of the entire experience, describing it as unique and one of the best events she has participated in this year. “I particularly enjoyed the informal but convivial approach to the event which was incredibly professionally run. The course was magnificent and a suitable challenge but well organised with guides along the route. It was really epic to see the support from the mountain club who were there with their ropes to ensure our safety and were plotting along the course appropriately.”
Adding to this she says, “I have never been to Cathedral Peak Hotel which was a real treat and I will definitely be back. It exposed us to a part of the berg we haven’t explored and we are really looking forward to going back to some of the other trails in the area and enjoy the hospitality that the hotel puts on. I would advise anyone who wants a massive challenge to open their minds and hearts to the possibility of participating in this challenge.”
Anyone attempting this technical challenge needs skill, athletic ability, fitness, and a will to overcome and at the end of the day it’s attitude that will carry them to the summit when their legs are failing. Over a distance of 20km with a total ascent of 1531m to summit highest free-standing peak in the Drakensberg, at an altitude of 3005m, the Cathedral Peak Challenge requires you to be at your best and your bravest, every step of the way.
As an event that is all about personal victories and overcoming challenge – there were plenty of these stories that filtered in as the competitors crossed the finished line. Exhausted but elated to have conquered fears and achieved bucket list goals – each person had a tale to tell. From baboons on the trail to vultures, views that are quite breath-taking; these are memories that forever will be etched in the minds of those who climbed.
The next event is on 25 August and the last supported race in the series is scheduled for 22 September. There is a limit to the number of entries that can be accommodated so anyone who feels moved to take up the challenge – particularly athletes who wish to defend or better their time – should book early. For those who cannot make the full ascent but want to participate in this soul enriching experience – there’s The Cathedral Peak Challenge Mini. It’s the same route, but stops shy of the peak, ending at the Base Camp just below the summit. It is an untimed and unsupported route that can be completed on any day (weather permitting) between 1 June and 30 September.
The series leader board results can be found here:
Top race images can be found on the Cathedral Peak Hotel Facebook page:
The Cathedral Peak Challenge takes place over four events with one bonus event:
- 8 June – Race #1
- 28 July – Race #2
- 25 August – Race #3
- 22 September – Race #4
- BONUS: 18 July – Mandela Day Mountain Race
- While one doesn’t have to stay at the Cathedral Peak Hotel to race, participants who do will receive a 25% discount for the duration of their stay while running the challenge.
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