Rider tackles mountain for children
EXTREME athlete Jamie Marais set out to break his record on Sani Pass with a goal of achieving five summits in 12 hours on a mountain bike from border post to border post in support of HeadStart Kids, which develops early childhood development programmes.
Sani Pass is the most dangerous road in South Africa (dangerousroads. org) and rises about 1 000 vertical metres over 8km from the lower border post to the summit at 2 876m.
“There are millions of malnourished children in South Africa, and what people don’t realise is that a full tummy is not necessarily a healthy child,” said Marais, from Cape Town.
“Poor nutrition affects a child’s physical, mental and emotional development, and the first five years of a kid’s life are critical in that regard.
“That’s why doing five summits was so important to me – to help promote awareness of HeadStart Kids, which feeds over 10 000 children a day, and to highlight the power of the first five years.”
Last year, Marais achieved four summits in 10 hours before the team decided to stop the challenge, as it was “simply too dangerous to continue”.
Gale-force winds of up to 100km/h made even pushing his bike almost impossible. “Last year we had close to hurricane-force winds that literally blew me right off my bicycle and several times almost right off Sani Pass. It was just too dangerous to carry on.”
Supported by Land Rover Pietermaritzburg, Marais and his team commenced at 6am, but had no idea of how extreme the weather would become. “It was absolutely brutal.”
He eventually achieved his goal of five summits in just over twelve hours, but says he’s not quite done with Sani Pass yet.
“I really believe that six to eight summits is achievable in 12 hours on the right day, and I’d like to tackle that again next year, perhaps during winter, when we don’t have such strong winds, like in November.
“The mind follows where the body leads and the only limits in life are the limits you place on yourself,” he added.
Marais once speed-summited Table Mountain 22 times in 28 hours.
Jamie Marais taking on Sani Pass.