Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 161 September 2023 | Page 52


Thrilling Adventure on

Wheels & Feet

Kobus Bresler
In a remarkable display of determination and exploration , well known trail runners Jock Green and Ryno Griesel embarked on the 9PeaksBike Challenge in May , conquering the highest peaks of South Africa ’ s provinces on both bikes and foot . This extraordinary twist on the original 9 Peaks Challenge pushed their physical and mental limits as it propelled them through breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable moments . – BY SEAN FALCONER with TERENCE VRUGTMAN

In 1994 , the new South Africa was born , and soon after that we had a new provincial set-up . Gone were the original four provinces of pre- 1994 SA , now we had nine official provinces … and each one has a highest peak . In the north is a cluster of relatively easy to hike peaks – Iron Crown ( Limpopo , 2126m above sea level ), De Berg ( Mpumalanga , 2331m ), Toringkop ( Gauteng , 1913m ) and Nooitgedacht-West ( North West , 1816m ) – before one got to the Drakensberg Mountains , where Namahadi ( Free State , 3291m ), Mafadi ( KwaZulu-

Natal , 3451m ) and Kwaduma ( Eastern Cape , 3019m ) lay in wait . Rounding out the collection are Murch Point ( Northern Cape , 2156m ) and Seweweekspoort Peak ( Western Cape , 2325m ).
It wasn ’ t long before somebody dreamt up the idea of travelling around the country to hike up each of these highest points , and given that all are reachable by road travel ( sometimes tar , sometimes gravel ), do not require mountain climbing experience or equipment , and offer a beautiful challenge as well as a unique way of exploring the country , the challenge soon grew in popularity . Unsurprisingly , it didn ’ t take long for somebody to decide that running up all nine peaks would make a great ‘ bucket list ’ challenge for trail runners .
Initially , most people tackled the challenge in groups , for safety and companionship , and did it across multiple weeks , or even months , but soon new ways were being conceived to do the nine peaks , culminating in the first solo non-stop journey undertaken by Kobus Bresler in March 2011 . He successfully completed the challenge in eight days , 6 hours and 52 minutes , and said afterwards the trip included numerous mistakes , frustrations , scary
Ryno Griesel and Jock Green set out to tackle Kwaduma Peak during their recordsetting 9PeaksBike Challenge
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