FKT: Armand Du Plessis - 13 Peaks Challenge (South Africa) - 2019-03-31

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1d 2h 3m 0s

Photos on Strava.  From Facebook:

Yesterday I set out on a solo attempt at Ryan Sandes's epic 13 Peaks Challenge ( (pretty impromptu)

My objective was to finish it solo and in one go, ideally within 24 hours. Ryan and Kane has done all the hard work breaking trail on this absolutely iconic route only to have to pull out on 12.5 peaks after running out of headlamp. With the benefit of their experience I knew I was going to be slower but I’ll certainly pack enough headlamps if anything! (Without their insights this would’ve been a heck of a lot harder ??, well it was f*&king hard but… thanks and massive respect!!)

Stoked to start my @13_peaks collection with a Two Day badge and the first non-stop solo finish (thank you Petzl ?). Next time I’ll spend a little less time grooming my toenails and running a bit more and maybe get that elusive One Day badge!

For the TL;DR; folks - here's the Relive - >>> <<<

So while it’s still fresh some things that worked and didn’t work.

Things that Worked
* Petzl Nao headlamp - I packed 4 different headlamps and still got worried - Ryan kindly dropped more batteries for me at Constantia Nek. In the end the Nao lasted through the entire night from ~7pm until 5am with a short 15 minute recharge at Constantia Nek. (I occasionally used a small handheld when the fog was too thick for a headlamp) 
* Garmin Fenix 5X - This was the first 24hr+ run I’ve done with the Fenix. Didn’t change any settings and lasted the entire run with full mapping running the whole time. Completely unexpected - super impressed. 
* Training - my objective was to do a long slow solo mission. I didn’t intend to stay out *that* long but felt good for most of the run. All issues I had was due to chafing and shoes but everything else held up well ? 
* Maurten - Hydrogel Sports Fuel. Innes from The Vine introduced me to this - gels that tastes nice and you can actually take without water. And it works. This was my staple fuel for most of the run. Oh the smoothies at The Vine also didn’t hurt either. Nice to be able to stop on a run at your local running watering hole/shop.

Things that Didn’t work 
* Klaasenskop Navigation - I should’ve recce’ed this before. Having never been up Klaasenskop Peak trying to find it at night with almost zero visibility in the fog was incredibly frustrating. For just over an hour I stumbled around in waist deep bushes and thorns. In the end probably costing me the One Day badge ? 
* GPS Warnings - After refueling and changing at Constantia Nek I was feeling like a brand new person. So much so I ran straight past the Overseers Hut without seeing it (the Klaasenskop trail is before it) and only found my mistake when I saw the Alexander Dam signs appear from the mist. 
* CHAFE - Damnit - Squirrels Nut Butter, Vaseline.. anything! I left without applying any chafe cream and bitterly paid for it for 30km before Constantia Nek running in agony. I’ll be forever thankful to Ryan for arriving with all of the above and fresh clothes and shoes. 
* Shoes & Socks - I ran for too long with sand in wet socks which caused incredibly painful skin folds and blisters on my feet. Again - changing from my quite worn low-profile La Sportiva Helios Sky Racers to Ryan’s Ultra Fat Bois was heaven for my feet.
* Transport - The police found my ‘abandoned’ vehicle at the Signal Hill trailhead and sent officers to go look for me at home. Seriously kudos Cape Town Police. Promise next time I’ll Uber and not cause undue worry.

Things I’ll do Differently
* Go down Ledges instead of dropping down Nursery and missioning back up Newlands Ravine - After losing so much time searching for Klaasenskop I considered taking the risk and dropping down Ledges to try and make up some time but 1) I was worried I wouldn’t find it in the dark and end up spending more time missioning around and 2) with 90km on the legs probably not the best idea to down climb a wet Ledges at night. 
* Earlier start - My initial idea was to start at midnight, run 20 hours and join Prieur’s surprise party. I ended up starting at 4am and finishing at 6am. Sorry…

Some stats: 
* Distance at Devil’s Peak - 100.8km
* Distance at Finish - 110.1km
* Time at Devil’s Peak - 23:50
* Time at Finish back at Signal Hill - 26:03 (Was a very tender slog back to the start) 
* Total Peaks: 13! I promise I counted. 
* Caracals Spotted: 1
* Police Officers Arriving at my neighbours looking for the owner of abandoned vehicle at Signal Hill: 2