Despite extreme weather conditions, sleet hail, gusting winds, rain and freezing temperatures, Nicole Capper, Tammy Taylor Mrs South Africa 2018 has once again proved that she’s as gutsy as she is gorgeous – conquering another “rare heights” challenge. This time she summited the iconic Rhino Peak in the Southern Drakensberg on World Rhino Day (22 September 2018) a climb which collectively helped raise R352 888 for endangered species around South Africa.
Now in its fourth year, the Rhino Peak Challenge is a gruelling 21km event with ample uphill climbing that’s guaranteed to test the endurance of even the fittest athletes who dare to summit. This year two groups of 10 elite athletes and 10 people of interest participated in the event.
“Being invited to participate in this event as an influencer was such a privilege and I am humbled to have been included. When Sibusiso Vilane suggested I participate I jumped at the chance to not only get behind a cause I identify with – but it was an opportunity for us to run together ahead of The Everest Marathon which we are doing together in 2019,” says Capper.
According to Capper – the path to the top is less travelled than other peaks in the Berg; more overgrown with dense bush making the climb more challenging. Describing it as the most intimidating race she has ever done, she pushed through her discomfort and the treacherous conditions, and in the end was awarded the title of “The Person Who Gave the Most to the Mountain”.
Capper’s training regime includes Crossfit five times a week and she schedules several 5km – 10km runs too. She believes that although the physical endurance of an event like this is strenuous and you have to prepare adequately – at the end of the day – battles like these are fought and won in the mind.
“Of course running with a pack of extreme ultra-athletes was not without pressure. I knew I wouldn’t be the fastest or the most technically proficient. So when it hailed three times and the icy wind was driving the rain into my face while I made my way up some of the steepest gullies I’ve ever seen, I knew I was out of my l league,” says Capper. “But when a tribe of people has rallied behind you to raise funds and awareness for such an important cause, there’s suddenly a purpose greater than pain,” says Capper.
“I have never participated in a fundraising climb for endangered species but I am passionate about our heritage, this beautiful country and I use the outdoors as my training ground for my rare heights training. So it’s only right that I give back and help draw attention to this incredible initiative.”
More than that – she says “The heritage I’m most proud of is our courage. We are a land of ordinary people who dare to do extraordinary things for purpose and passion. Our strength lies in standing together in our courage and celebrating each other’s successes, picking one another up when we fall, and daring to do great things in the face of great adversity. My Rhino Peak Challenge experience was all this and more.”
Capper finished the race 81 minutes under her goal time of eight hours. “Thank you to every single person who pledged towards this Rhino Peak Challenge. It was one of the most rewarding and empowering experiences; the mountains have a way of touching your soul and sending you home a little different to how you arrived.”
The Rhino Peak Challenge funds raised will be donated to the Rhino Conservation Project, Maloti Drakensberg Vulture Project, Wildlife ACT and the Drakensberg Crane Project.