The Golden Gate Challenge (a three day trail run) brought to you by the Old Mutual Wild Series took place from October 22 to 25. The race had over 180 participants, showing the popularity and success of the unique Old Mutual Wild Series events. The stage distances of 27km, 29km and 17km traversed through restricted parts of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, rarely seen by the public. The Golden Gate Highlands National Park is home to one of Southern Africa’s few remaining populations of the Bearded Vulture, a critically endangered bird found in high altitude landscapes.
The men’s race was tightly contested and Wandisile Nongodlwana was the victor in a time of 7:34:38 closely followed by Robert Stewart in 7:41:22 and Piet Jacobs who finished in 7:46:37.
The overall winner for the ladies was Karine Bezuidenhout in a brilliant time of 9:13:08, second was Kim Westbrook in 10:10:55 and third, Caren Ziady in a time of 10:43:12.
Hanno Langenhoven, a ‘More Than Yourself’ fundraiser and passionate trail runner raised R 10 000.00 through a campaign with Knead Bakery, a national coffee shop retailer through the sale of ‘rhinochinnos.’ At the Golden Gate Challenge, he also had a floating ‘money box’ which helped him raise a further R 4 446.00 for the critically endangered Bearded Vulture. “I want my daughter to see our wildlife in her lifetime,” said Langenhoven. “I’m passionate about wildlife and conservation, the ‘More Than Yourself’ platform allows me to support the great work being done by Wildlands.”
Sibusiso Vilane, a known mountaineer and Old Mutual Wild Series ambassador conquered the Golden Gate’s rugged terrain in a time of 11:51:29 and comments, “I am an adventurer and a conservationist by choice! It gives me a profound satisfaction when I use my adventures and natural physical abilities to help organisations like Wildlands that run conservation projects that are closest to my heart. We all have something in common and that is passion.”
David Katz, a Freelance Journalist, Podcaster, Producer and Running Coach – widely known as ‘MrActive’ on social media platforms participated in his third Old Mutual Wild Series event (Mont-Aux-Sources, Kruger2Canyon and Golden Gate) and finished in a time of 11:32:59. He commented, “I was the strongest I have been on Sunday morning, despite having completed 198km over three Old Mutual Wild Series trail running events in the space of just seven weeks. I loved my initial goal, the legendary Mont-Aux-Sources Challenge, and I battled through the heat at the stunning new event the Kruger2Canyon Challenge. However it was at the Golden Gate Challenge where I found my niche.
Every day was absolutely stunning, you rise steep and fast giving you spectacular views of a charming part of South Africa. However each climb is followed recovery with a chance to stretch the legs on a descent or contour path. To be able to do this stunning event alone was a blessing, but to be able to use my skills to run with a GoPro for ATV, podcast for Old Mutual Live, and share in helping #GoldenGate2015 trend on twitter; allowed me to absorb even more energy and excitement over the three days,” said Katz.
Karen Thomas, Head of Brand – Old Mutual, thanked all who participated in the Golden Gate Challenge and highlighted that Old Mutual is happy to support such events as they profile South Africa’s wild heritage and boost their endurance portfolio and responsible business efforts.
Andrew Venter, Wildlands’ CEO, praised Old Mutual for their continued support, “We couldn’t do events like this if we didn’t have partners like Old Mutual. The ‘More Than Yourself’ platform is a platform that challenges our participants to raise funds for critically endangered species like the Bearded Vulture and it’s encouraging to have such passionate runners that are always willing to give.”
The conservation of the park is vital to a protected corridor along the length of the Maluti-Drakensberg Mountain range which provides safe and suitable habitat and food for the endangered bird.
Thank you to our sponsors, Old Mutual, Radox and SANParks. These events would not be a success without you!
The Wild Series events for 2015 are all complete. For updates and information for 2016 events please visit www.wildseries.co.za.
To become a fundraiser please visit www.morethanyourself.co.za