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World record

By | Charity

‘Probably one of the biggest moments of my career.’ 

World record: Most vertical distance in 24 hours by a team.

Platteklip Gorge, Table Mountain x 14.

Christiaan Greyling & AJ Calitz

10 May 2021

19:52:00

Photos by Grobler Basson, words by Dane van den Heever

Why did we do it?

So we decided to take on something extraordinary…

It started in lockdown, when K-Way teammate AJ Calitz and I had a chat as we were bummed about the events being cancelled. We knew we wanted to do something in a short period of time, so that we weren’t going to be away from our families for too long. And we wanted to do something that creates hope. 

AJ then applied for a Guinness World Record attempt, which lasts for three months. And as we all know, life happens, one procrastinates and leaves things to be done last minute. 

After another conversation, we were left with a choice. Either wait and reapply, or be crazy and commit. Once you start moving things around, they get postponed. Sometimes you just have to do it.

So right there and then, we jumped in. We had to complete the attempt before the 11th of May… 

What physical planning goes into an event like this? 

We both are ultra runners and have raced competitively on the international scene, but to put things into perspective, this was AJ’s longest run ever in time, and by far the most vertical distance we moved in a single effort. 

So, you would think we will attempt this well rested? But only 2 weeks prior to this I did the 100km Ultra trail Drakensberg and finished 2nd in a very competitive field and was still broken on my test run a few days before the attempt. AJ on the other hand took part in the annual PCC (Platteklip Charity Challenge) and only 3 weeks prior to our record attempt he did 11 laps up and down on a section of the climb. He was also not in his best physical state when we stepped over the startline at 4:02am on Monday 10 May. 

We would have liked to prepare more for an event like this, the fact that we went into it quite blindly was mainly a good thing. I had no idea how hard it might be, something better not to know. 

AJ had a better sense of what was ahead, as he had done some of this craziness before. 

The madness

There was just a point during the day when our bodies felt like they were broken to pieces… and only our heads were left. 

It’s then when you need a very strong reason why you are attempting the challenge. 

We tapped into all the energy of the support we received. There were people backing us everywhere, on top of the mountain and below, in obscure hours. And therefore we didn’t want to give up. 

We still, however, went through some dark patches… cramping, nausea, dehydration. And a lot of pain. 

Hydration and nutrition

The one thing you can not go without in such an exhausting effort is the best nutrition, and enough of it. I burned around 8500 calories, according to my Garmin watch. You cannot skimp on this… it’s your fuel. As a professional athlete, you also don’t have that much fat to burn, you need sufficient fats, carbs and protein for the demands of the day. And the demand was high! Climbing always gets your heart rate up. It’s an effort, and will always be, no matter how slow you go. 

Initially, I ran with some Biogen plant based protein bars, and Buttanutt sachets (which actually fit well into my Naked Innovation Belt). It’s great proteins that break down easily, and I knew it would help my body when the laps would start their bite. We ate well in the beginning, knowing there would be a point we wouldn’t feel like eating anymore. Which is when you need to go over to liquid foods. 

Landie brought me a smoothie at lap 5, and whatever was in there was amazing.  I think I had about four smoothies throughout the day, about 5 energy bars, an avo, Wazoogles oats, 3 Buttanut rolls, chicken broth and salt chips, half a pizza, soup, a footlong nougat, yellies, fruit, Biogen gels, 5 Tribe coffees and the list goes on 🙂 

It really helped to run to your aid station every hour and a half, hour and fifteen minutes. 

The day is a lot easier like that, as opposed to running a hundred kilometers and carrying all of your goodies with you. 

But it’s also difficult when you run past your finishing point 13 times. Getting out of the ‘nice zone,’ is hard when it’s where your friends, good food and music are.

I calculated a total of around 18 liters of fluid that I took during the day. When arriving at the bottom of a lap, I just grabbed a soft flask that was filled with Biogen electrolytes, Cytogen or Carbogen and ran with it. I really discovered the value of Carbogen there. It’s a great source of low GI energy, without caffeine. 

I sweat most of my fluids out, 12.5L according to my Garmin fenix 6 Sapphire and was probably dehydrated at a point, you always are. But this time, we hands down had better hydration than in a usual race. Reason being we never missed a single time to drink when we crossed the stream of water on our way up. We forced each other to drink a cup on every lap. When AJ was in front, he would fill up the water and leave the cup for me on the rock, what a teamplayer! 

Gear 

So when things are really tough and you are facing extreme conditions, you have to be able to depend on your gear. Both AJ and I had our K-Way arm warmers on for the entire day. Definitely for the 4am cold, but also as we entered the heat of the day, we soaked them in the stream and they cooled us down. 

We had a couple of clothing changes, because we got so drenched in sweat. It’s fantastic to change into a fresh shirt or shorts, not to mention new socks. 

As for my running shoes, I was wearing my Adidas Flow pair. They had enough cushioning, I was quite impressed, in spite of their tough exterior and grip. I switched to the Pearly pair later on, which is a much softer shoe, yet brilliant for the job as well. I have no blisters from the day, no pains. 

Without my 30 South sunnies, the heat would have beaten me, especially around laps 6 – 8. 

 I am very happy with my gear choices for the day. 

The real heroes

At the end of the day it looked like there were two guys who ran up a mountain, and they got to be the heroes. 

But actually that would not have been possible at all without the people who supported us. I remember having goosebumps at the last two laps… to see our friends waiting there for us, on top and at the bottom, risking being late for curfew just to support us. 

It was an emotional finish. There they were, the crazy people who believed in two crazy guys… cheering for us. Being happy for us. What a moment! 

I hope the record goes way beyond what we did out there. We aim to inspire people to do something extraordinary, something out of their comfort zone. To get out! It’s not about breaking a world record, or running up and down a mountain 14 times.  

We committed our run to the charity called EduNova. It takes a big wave, like breaking a world record, to raise enough awareness for a big problem like education in our country. We loved having this opportunity for exposure for them, and hope to see their plans for a brighter future realize on the near horizon. 

And then a real big shout out must go to Grobler Basson, who ran with us for three laps with the best music. He has to be the local trail DJ. He and his wife are super seconds, with a hundred miler from three weeks ago still fresh in their minds. They knew exactly what we needed.

Also a big thanks to Pierre Pienaar, from K-Way, who spent the WHOLE day at the aid station keeping things together. 

So many people were spending a lot of time at Platteklip for us. All of them, Blake, Greg, Emily, Janco, Dirkie, Shaun, Tinus, Jamie Marais .. you guys were great support and gave us the best smiles out there.

A big thanks to AJ Calitz, the brainchild of this feat. He is one of the best motivational teammates one can ask for!

Also, huge thanks to all the social media, the PR, the photographers, the story reporters on social media. Thanks for backing us all the way. 

Table mountain has one of the most technical descents I know. We had to run down in 30 minutes, because we had only a few minutes to spare for the record. 

It is downright risky to run a mountain like this 14 times. We could easily have tripped, broken a bone or sprained an ankle. 

Therefore, praise be to God… He made our feet like that of a rhebok. We were sent angels like Majozi, a SAN Parks officer who gave us favor and good support on the mountain. And one of AJ’s elders who prayed for us on the run. Actually, all our people were praying for us. 

God blessed us and enabled us. 

And special thanks to President Cyril Ramaphosa for allowing us only 20 hours of that climb. Another four would have been pure agony. 

7 Summits for starting chance

By | Charity | 695 Comments

 

In a bid to raise funds for differently-abled children to enjoy the freedom to move and learn, South African trail runner Christiaan Greyling will climb seven summits in seven days with his son joining him on one of the days.

I will raise funds for a state-of-the-art special care school with a clinic and specially-designed playground to aid movement

“My new challenge aims to make people aware of the challenges that disabled children face. To do this I will summit seven Western Cape mountains, of more than 1000m vertical ascent each, in seven days to raise funds for a state-of-the-art special care school with a clinic and specially-designed playground to aid movement,” Greyling says.

By summiting a mountain, a day I’m aiming to raise one rand for every one vertical metre climbed during the week by any of the club members, with the final goal being R50 000,” he says.

As a club we climbed a combined total of 42,768m

With the help and donations we have raised more than the vertical meters and raised a total of R40 000 to date!

Why Starting Chance

His charity of choice is Starting Chance, A non-profit organisation in Mfuleni in Cape Town. The project partially funded by HomeChoice is committed to to making a difference in the lives of children in the early childhood sector.

Why summits?

“By summiting mountains, we experience freedom and by moving, we can give freedom to others.

The Biggest challenge was not the physical activity as initially expected, but with this project came many more logistical nightmares to juggle during a normal work-week. The normal daily challenges which include work, meetings, health, a baby with high fever, a car accident, 4 birthdays, a business to run, family dynamics and to stay true to my commitment of summiting 7 mountains and getting an elevation of 1000m every day.

Mountains summited during the week of 9-15 September

 

Summit 1: Du Toits Kop peak 9 Spetember

Summit 2: Stellenbosch mountain 10 September

 

Summit 3: Table MaClears Bea

Summit 5: Helderberg Dome

 

 

 

 

 

Summit 4: Simonsberg – The Cold One

 

 

 

Summit 6: Table Mountain

The 7th Summit

After I have completed 6 summits relatively easy, one could imagine the 7th summit would also go smooth as I have a full day to take control of my commitment. Our day started in Greyton where we camped for a good friend’s 40th birthday. Myself and my wife Lanide break camp at 6am and left for Worcester to drop our baby at my sister’s house while we summit Sneeukop. Halfway up the mountain, we realized we will not make it back in time, and following the whatsapp communication, he was not happy at all. My sister was hosting her boy’s 8th birthday and there was no way we could expect other people to give up their commitments because of ours. After weighing up options and risks, with one cellphone and one car, I realised that I must abandon this mountain.

 

We then spent time with our family and I have then planned to summit a familiar mountain that night in Stellenbosch as I now had 500m ascent for the day. As I played around with various emotions I read this text on the wall; Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and courageous, do not be frightened and not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

The plan was to start at 5pm with my good friend Gabriel. As we left the parking for the trail, we heard a loud noise and to our shock we noticed that someone bumped into his parked bakkie. The worst was that the bakkie was committed to a buyer from Gauteng the previous day.

I felt partially responsible, so I went with him to report the case and 45 minutes later we were back at the start of the trail. We secured safer parking but as we were about to start I received a phone call from my wife that our baby’s got a fever of 39.

By now I was convinced that this summit is not for me to conquer, but the summit is an emotional one, a spiritual battle to overcome. We found an after hours pharmacy and with the help of my doctor sister, I got the right medication. On our way home, Landie said the fever settled and suggested that we climb the final mountain. At 18:25 we started our ascent up Botmaskop from Stellenbosch but I prayed and a lot for a safe summit to complete this project. It was a beautiful crisp evening, but Botmaskop is sketchy in places and has a very high crime rate.

 

At 19:30 I popped out at the top of Botmaskop with a total ascent of 1250m for the day and 8373m for the week relieved, thankful and praising God for the health to climb mountains, and his blessings throughout the project. I felt a feeling of achievement, of completion and found it very applicable as the number 7 in Hebrew exactly means completion.

I soon realised that while we have to juggle to keep all the balls in the air we forget about the struggles differently abled kids has to overcome. A simple task to make your own food or walk to the school does not even exist in some peoples reference. This challenge to me was not about the money we raised, but it gave me the reason for introspection to how fast we live our lives without noticing the people around us and the people who struggle.

 

 

 

 

Support

As we have to support those who can’t help themselves, I have to thank the people who supported me during this project, because without you it would not have been possible to raise R40 000+, climb 8374m during a normal work week and experience all these amazing views on top of the mountains. Kirsty Hatt for doing all the project communication, media and for your positive attitude, Starting Chance for the great work which you do. My friends who supported, ran with me, listened to my story and contributed to my course, my family who supported, smiled and even climbed with me when they could. My sponsors for sharing the story and equipping me with the best equipment to do what we do.

Seven summits for a good cause

By | Charity | 1,356 Comments

I’ll be summiting 7 mountains (+1000m) in 7 days this week for charity. The purpose is to raise R1 for every 1m (vertical) climbed. Total funds raised will go to the Lonwabo Project for a special needs school and playground to aid movement for disabled children in Mfuleni, Cape Town. Please donate or climb your bit for disabled children. Move for those who can’t. Join my Strava Club 7summits4SC or donate via Givengain 7 Summits for Starting Chance.

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