Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 149 Feb. 2022 - Page 24

TRAIL RUNNING

Chasing the

Mafadi FKT

A few days before Christmas , elite SA trail runner Johardt van Heerden joined friends in the Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal to tackle a running project to attempt to set a new Fastest Known Time ( FKT ) to run to the summit of Mafadi , the highest point in South Africa . Part of the group was his long-time friend Louis Le Grange , who wrote this entertaining blog about the FKT expedition .
Johardt van Heerden with Mafadi in the background

There we were … One athlete ( Johardt van Heerden ), two fishermen camouflaged as the camera crew ( Sven Musica and Arlo van Heerden , Johardt ’ s brother ), and one storyteller ( me ). That is how the story began , late one Wednesday afternoon in December , with an easy trot along the Njesuthi River , after Johardt had flown up from the Cape to try and attempt the fastest known time ( FKT ) to the highest point in South Africa . In 2015 , Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel had clocked 5:47:59 for the ascent of Mafadi from the Njesuthi Campsite .

At the Njesuthi River crossing , about one and a half kilometres from the campsite , water was flowing gently through the rocks . Half of us took off our shoes and crossed the river with ease . The lazy brothers didn ’ t bother , though , as everything was going to get wet anyway over the next couple of days . We took a few camera shots , checked out how overgrown the footpaths were , and went “ only around the next corner ” to try and see the majestic Drakensberg escarpment in the distance . The Injisuthi triplets trimmed with a stunning waterfall just below the Injisuthi Summit Cave were all visible by eye , clear as daylight .
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