So there we were, finally lined up for the Platteklip Charity Challenge 2011. I have to admit being fairly nervous. I thought I was not, but this event is unlike any other I have done. With the focus being on all out fund-raising in the lead up, one is constantly reminded of what looms. For me it was going to be six ascents of the very steep Platteklip Gorge. Tick, tick, bang! 7h05 was sunrise and 75 challengers were set off towards the dreaded Platteklip, a place we would all get to know very intimately during the next many hours until the sun finally set.
For the organisers and the athletes, wishing for a sunny still day is usually high on the list, especially when it comes to an event on Table Mountain, where four seasons in one day is pretty standard and things change minute by minute. But this year it turned out to be a case of be careful what you wish for. With temperatures soaring to a cooking 39 degrees, it was the “perfect” day. Too perfect in fact. And for those of us who had signed up for more than 4 ascents, there was no choice but to carry on throughout the day and just deal with the brutal baking sun. And on the way up Platteklip there is nowhere to hide. Well, almost nowhere.
So whilst the heat took its toll, with lap times almost double what they were last year in the mist, the upside was that people from all over Cape Town and all over the world were out there exploring this natural wonder* with us. They were moving up and down Platteklip all day, fascinated by what these crazy people in blue and pink shirts were up to. Because they did not just see us pass by and disappear once, but we would soon re-appear, often within the hour, whilst they were still going up (or down) Platteklip for the first time. But we were on a mission, coming good on a promise was the order of the day: to hike the required amount of Platteklip summits we committed to, so that underprivileged children and AIDS orphans could received funding and a better chance at life.
I live under Table Mountain and love running on it, but to spend 10 hours on it was a tough day out. A slog. But what a pleasure to spend such quality time on this slab in the most magnificent scenery, with people I know and some that I didn’t (but now do). This good company and scenery keeps one going, distracted from the repeat motion of being sun dried on the most relentless giant step machine that is Platteklip Gorge.
For me one of the other highlights was witnessing the absolutely astounding mix of people and how they go about tackling a hike like this one. All types were there: from the 13 year old Mitchell’s Plain teen in his black jean pant with boxers hanging out listening to Lady Gaga on his cell phone to the Danish exchange students in tracksuits and flimsy slip slops; the Korean dad with his 7 year old daughter and 11 year old son to the intrepid British chap who went up without any water (on his own!); the tanned US couple in bikini and baggies to the hilarious Precious and her friends from Joburg who were so hot they ended up in pink bras and leggings (also without water). And too many others to describe.
A big up Anton De Waal (and his crew), responsible for creating this double-edged sword that helped some of us to GOYA (Get Off Your Ass) and push our limits, to do something unusual and contribute to others whilst also expanding our own horizons. A sum total of more than R421 330 was raised in the end. As Anton said, which sums it all up: “You guys have done something that will change the lives of people you might never meet. That is big.”
Lastly, a huge thanks to all of you who put your money where your mouth is and supported this big day out. You did good. See on the giant step machine in 2012.
For more details on how to get involved next time, see www.charitychallenge.co.za
*Note: Table Mountain is almost an official Natural Wonder. Vote Here to make it happen.
I took a few videos on the day, every time I arrived on the top of Table Mountain, approaching the Cableway station. Here is one of them.