Ryan Sandes sets new FKT

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Trail-Blazer Sandes sets Table Mountain FKT challenge

Cape Town (South Africa) – Almost a year to the day after he and Ryno Griesel set the record for the Drakensburg Grand Traverse (in a lightning-fast time of 41h 49m), Ryan Sandes decided it was time for a new challenge. In 02h02m13s, Sandes set the ‘Fastest Known Time’ for 15.1km route (with 1070m ascent and 949m decent) across Cape Town’s famed Table Mountain.

Press release by Kelly Burke – Flux

Mention the name ‘Ryan Sandes’ and it immediately conjures thoughts of the ultimate trail runner adventuring through breath-taking landscapes. Not one to lie back and take it easy, Sandes’ decided to be the first to set the Table Mountain record.

Having started out at 6:30 am at Suikerbossie Restaurant, Ryan ventured his way across the sandstone and fynbos checking through 3 designated points before finishing at SAN Parks Information Centre on Lower Tafelberg Road.

“Anything under 50km is a bit of a sprint for me so racing a route under 16km was a shock to my system, “ Sandes joked. “I felt really good, and really enjoyed myself on the route as it is super technical.”

“I’ll definitely have another crack at the FKT when I get another chance this year as I would like to go under two hours. I think that is the beauty of the project – runners can challenge themselves and run the route a couple of times to try better their times.”

FKT chasing has become somewhat of a phenomenon in the ultra-running world over the last few years. Essentially, an FKT is a course record for a given distance on a trail, usually set on trails where a race with many participants would be detrimental to the area.

Would-be contenders should head to http://www.redbull.co.za/FKT where they’ll be able to pit themselves up against Sandes’ time using any GPS device or the Strava App. A simple registration process and uploading the GPS data from their run is all that stands in the way of getting their name on the Table Mountain FKT leader board.

Just by running the route and uploading their result they stand a chance of joining Sandes’ support team as he travels to compete in the Grande Raid Réunion in October. The race, set on the picturesque volcanic isle, is arguably the world’s toughest 100 miler, with over 10 000m of climbing.

“Get out there, hit the mountain and push past what you think is possible! It’s more about challenging yourself and taking in the beauty that the mountain has to offer. I’ve had the opportunity to run all over the world and what we have in Cape Town is pretty special,” says Sandes.

Image copyright Craig Kolesky

For more information regarding the route and to see the current leader board please visit the website – http://www.re

SANDES and GRIESEL achieve #DrakTraverse record

Image ©kelvintrautman

Image ©kelvintrautman

At 00h00 on Monday, 24 March 2014, trailblazers Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel embarked on the ultimate Drakensberg adventure – the Drakensberg Grand Traverse. The two battled the elements and intense fatigue to break the existing record by an incredible 18 hours to complete the traverse in 41 hours and 49 minutes on 25 March 2014.

Spanning parts of the Free State and Kwa-Zulu Natal provinces of South Africa, as well as the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, the unmarked route has broken many an adventurers heart with only 3 official records set since the route was first run 15 years ago. The previous Drakensberg Grand Traverse (DGT) record, of 60 hours 29 mins, was set by Griesel and Cobus van Zyl.

A tired, but remarkably upbeat, Ryan Sandes was elated at completing the attempt and achieving a new record. “This attempt started as a seed more than 2 years ago…to have finished it now feels quite surreal. We felt good from the start & knew if the weather held, we would have a great chance of breaking the record. However, until you cross the line, you can’t be too sure. There were a few anxious moments when I tweaked my ankle 2 hours into the attempt & I was worried that it might mean the end so soon. Running through the night was challenging at some of the more technical parts, but it really helped to have Ryno there. He knows the mountain like the back of his hand & it was reassuring to have someone so experienced with me.”

Griesel was equally complimentary of his teammate. “Ryan has got to be the best runner in the world when it comes to these conditions. Running the DGT, as opposed to speed hiking, takes a greater toll on your body than I realised. I became dehydrated during the first day and had a couple of tough hours, but Ryan pushed us through it and kept me going.” When asked how he was feeling, Griesel summed it up in one word: ‘Privileged’. “It was such an incredible experience to see this dream of ours realised after years of planning and to enjoy so much support from friends, family & strangers from around the world.”

ryno-griesel ©kelvintrautman

ryno-griesel ©kelvintrautman

In order for the attempt to be official Sandes and Griesel had to start and the Sentinel Car Park and end at the Bushman’s Neck Border Post. As there is no set route for the DGT, one can choose any route to do so as long as one passes eight checkpoints along the way including The Chain Ladders, the Mont-aux-Sources summit at 3282m and the highest of the all the summits (and the highest point in Southern Africa) Thabana Ntlenyana Summit at 3482m.

Both of the athletes cited the sunrise from this summit as something that would stay with them forever. As Griesel said, “The sunrise this morning from Thabana was a special moment and we both stopped for a few seconds to appreciate the view. It was both inspiring & humbling to greet the day from such a vantage point.”

Part of the equipment the athletes carried was a mobile tracking system that tracked their movements across the mountains. This data was fed into an interactive website – http://www.redbull.co.za/draktraverse – that tracked distance, time against previous record and conditions live. The site attracted more than 20 000 visitors from all over the world over the course of the event and users were able to show their support for the athletes by sharing live data from the site.

Ryan Sandes ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes ©iancorless.com

With his DGT record in the bag, Sandes now has his sights set on Ultra Trial Mount Fuji in April, before he comes back to South Africa to participate in the Wings for Life World Run in Franschhoek in May.