On Monday, I posted a story about Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel, two ultra-runners attempting to set a new speed record on South Africa’s Drakensberg Grand Traverse, a remote and rugged trail that stretches for 220 km (136 miles), through the Drakensberg Mountains. The duo had set out on Sunday with the goal of smashing the previous record, and yesterday evening they reached the end of the route, easily besting the old mark in the process.
Starting front he Sentinel Car Park in the north and traveling to the Bushman’s Nek Border Post in the south, Sandes and Griesel crossed through some incredibly difficult terrain. The Drakensbergs are known for their sharp edged peaks, rocky trails, and substantial climbs and falls.. Over the course of the run, the two endurance athletes saw nearly as much total elevation gain as the equivalent of summiting Mt. Everest.
When they launched their efforts, Ryan and Ryno hoped to beat the previous record of 60 hours, 29 minutes, 30 seconds set back in 2010. After scouting the route ahead of their attempt, they felt that was an attainable goal, while also believing they could actually complete the route in under 40 hours. While they did manage to crush the old record, they weren’t able to finish quite that quickly. Their official time was 41 hours, 49 minutes, which shaves more than 18 hours off the previous best pace.
The run was not without its share of challenges. In addition to the grueling terrain, which they even ran through at night, both men faced some physical challenges. Sandes twisted an ankle no more than two hours into the attempt, and was worried for a time that he might have to pull the plug on their expedition. Later that day, Griesel said that he became dehydrated, which made for a rough couple of hours that is partner helped him to get through. In the end, they were able to overcome those difficulties and complete the traverse in record time.
Congratulations to Ryan and Ryno on an impressive effort.
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