The Cathedral Peak Challenge – more than just a race to the top

Great things are done when men and mountains meet.

-William Blake-


Do you have what it takes for the Cathedral Peak Challenge? Inviting all South Africans to join us on a soul-stirring adventure…

The pressures of city life make one lose sight of what’s natural, beautiful and serene. Whilst some find joy in this mad existence, others, at times, choose to bolt for the hills.

Running from 01 June until 30 September 2018, the Cathedral Peak Challenge presents a wonderful opportunity to clear the concrete cobwebs and connect with one of South Africa’s most glorious mountains.

Conceptualised by the owner of the Cathedral Peak Hotel, William Van Der Riet, The Cathedral Peak Challenge invites everyone who thinks they’re up to conquering the Peak’s summit to push and stretch themselves to overcome what was once thought impossible. What’s more, those quickest to the top and back will share in cash prizes totalling R100 000.

The Cathedral Peak Challenge is not for the faint-hearted! Whether you’ll be running or hiking, this is no ordinary trail. The 20.7km trip starts at the Cathedral Peak Hotel and goes right to the top and back, with a total ascent of 1531m.

Although there’s a fairly clear path, you need a head for heights and excellent fitness to summit the peak. That final stretch to the top is steep, exposed and quite treacherous at parts. And then there’s still the long, tricky trek down. Here is where it is the experience that matters; in the end, all we have is what we remember and how it challenged and changed us.

Here’s the fun part – you can enter and compete as many times as you wish. If you weren’t quite happy with your first attempt, you can come back and try again, and again, and again – until The Challenge’s final day on 30 September.

The Cathedral Peak Challenge is quickly becoming a 2018 calendar event for nature lovers, trail hikers, extreme adventurers, marathon runners, and other endurance athletes.

The launch of the Challenge on 10 May was one of the many highlights ahead of the coming months. Some of the big names setting the benchmark on the day included Iain and Sue Don-Wauchope, Tracy Zunckel, Bennie Roux, Nikki Booyens and Meg ‘jet shoes’ Mackenzie.

Mackenzie, South Africa’s top female trail runner, set an impressive time, completing the challenge in 02h53m – the fastest on the day. The other top 5 finishers at the launch were Perfect Dlamini in 03h04m, Thomas van Tonder in 03h08m, Greg Aviernos in 03h24m, and Sue Don-Wauchope in 03h27m.

Various other VIP’s, celebs and journos also joined the day’s proceedings. Even reigning Mrs South Africa, Nicole Capper, took on the mountain.

So, why all the fuss about a mountain?

For Van Der Riet, The Cathedral Peak Challenge is not a call to beat or overcome the mountain. It’s an invitation for South Africans to reclaim the spiritual loss caused by a modern lifestyle.

“At Cathedral Peak Hotel we’ve been witnessing a worrying trend over the last decade or so. Whilst we always have an abundance of guests coming here to escape city life, sadly, fewer people are actually engaging with nature on their visit.”

“Guests can choose from 18 different walks and hikes that range from gentle strolls down the riverside to scaling the summit of Cathedral Peak itself. Every single one of these outings is complementary to them. So why come all the way here, only to stay on the premises?”

It’s subsequently become Van Der Riet’s mission to encourage guests to harness the beauty and energy of the stunning natural surroundings as a remedy to the chaos and stress of city life.

“What we’re aiming to achieve with The Challenge cannot be accomplished in a single day. We wanted to offer something more than just a once-off experience.  That’s also why it’s running for almost 5 months. We want people to come back time and again. And no, they don’t have to stay at The Hotel; they’re welcome to just come and connect with what is the highest free-standing peak in South Africa’s revered Mountain of Dragons.”

At 3004m, Cathedral Peak is one of the most popular peaks in the Drakensberg. It was first climbed by D W Bassett-Smith and R G Kingdon in 1917. The normal route from Cathedral Peak Hotel is up a well-worn path to Orange Peel Gap, along a ridge and up Bugger Gully. The round trip is about 21km and can take up to 10 hours if you attempt it in a day.

Do you have what it takes to #ChallengeYourself? For more information and to register for the Cathedral Peak Challenge, visit