The Drakensberg Grand Traverse record attempt

Follow Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel on their Drakensberg Grand Traverse record attempt.
By A. P. Dent

The Drakensberg Grand Traverse (DGT) is an unmarked route of approximately 220km, running from the north to the south of the Drakensberg mountain range and spanning parts of the Free State and Kwa-Zulu Natal provinces of South Africa, as well as the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.

First ‘officially’ hiked in February 1999 by Gavin and Laurie Raubenheimer in a time of 105 hours and 39 minutes (4 days 9 hours and 39 minutes), the DGT has called to the hearts of many trail runners and hikers with more than 15 failed record attempts and 3 official records set since. The latest record was set in April 2010 by Ryno Griesel and Cobus van Zyl in a time of 60 hours 29min and 30 seconds (2 days 12 hours 29 min and 30 seconds).

Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel recce the Drakensberg Grand Traverse
Dragons Peak © Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool

“I am really excited to be running the Drakensberg Grand Traverse with Ryno, it’s going to be one of the biggest adventures of my life,” says Ryan. “The route is extremely challenging and the slow nature of the terrain makes the DGT that much harder. I always want to see how far I can push my own boundaries and for me this is going to be the ultimate test.”

Mentally I know this is going to be the hardest thing I have ever done!

Black and white portrait image of Ryan Sandes
Ryan Sandes © Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool

“Over the years the DGT record attempts have moved from the mind-set of traditional hiking, to fast and lighter hiking and later to adventure racing. Each of these shifts has led to new platforms of possibility,” explains Ryno. “To my knowledge, our project will be the first time that anyone will approach the DGT with a running mentality. There is less sleep planned so we are running on the proverbial knife’s edge. Combined with the responsibility of trying to keep up with my international running role-model whilst navigating makes this a challenge I will take on with a healthy level of respect and fear.”

It will be an all or nothing attempt.

Black and white portrait image of Ryno Griesel
Ryno Griesel © Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool

The attempt will depend on favourable weather conditions and is scheduled for the last week of March. Although there is no set route for the attempt, the rules for the official attempt state that you have to start at the Sentinel Car Park and end at the Bushman’s Neck Border Post whilst passing defined check points along the way.

The run must be entirely self-supported. This means it’s run entirely on foot with no food caches and no re-supplies. The only 'assistance' permitted is from a GPS and a map.

Follow their journey on the interactive event website, which plots their live GPS location onto an online map. Please visit it for more information, as well as to sign up for notifications of when their attempt is on!

Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel on a trial run in the Drakensberg Mountains
Ryan and Ryno during a reccie in February © Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool
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