Jamie Marais has become the only known person to cycle a vertical ascent of 9,000 metres, the equivalent elevation of Mount Everest (8,845m), in a Big 5 game reserve over 36 hours.
South Africa (21 September 2020) – During the last weekend of August 2020, Jamie Marais became the only known person to cycle a vertical ascent of 9,000 metres, the equivalent elevation of Mount Everest (8,845m), in a Big 5 game reserve over 36 hours.
Jamie chose to put himself through extreme discomfort and great personal risk to raise much-needed funds to protect endangered wildlife and feed communities affected by COVID-19.
Jamie comments, “These heart-wrenching causes pushed me to press on through brutally cold conditions on a treacherous route to reach the summit of a gruelling gravel circuit 40 times and cycle 337 kilometres in the heart of the Kariega Game Reserve. Knowing the defenceless animals and starving locals needed help inspired me to soldier on through the night as temperatures plummeted to near freezing and snow fell on high-lying areas, including Table Mountain. The heartfelt donations gave me the strength and perseverance to ride alongside wild animals, including an ever-present bull elephant nicknamed Charlie.”
Fundraising cycle in Big 5 reserve supports Kariega Foundation projects
The event was born after Jamie called Lindy Sutherland, director of the Kariega Foundation. Jamie understood that COVID-19 lockdowns meant zero revenue for tourism businesses. Neither he nor the host of volunteer media and event helpers realised the impact of these community and conservation programmes, such as these run by the Kariega Foundation, usually funded by guest levies.
“In the aftermath of COVID-19, it is so important for all of humanity to look outward and beyond their own needs to the plight of those who cannot help themselves. Raising funds to ensure the safety of our endangered species and keep our neighbours and friends fed has become our priority,” comments Kariega Foundation director Lindy Sutherland.
International team donate to create positive local impact
An international team of positive and creative people donated their time, talents and sponsorship to plan and run the event. These included legendary cycling commentator Phil Liggett, three-time winner of the Roof of Africa off-road endurance motorbike race Louwrens Mahoney of KTM, Mountain Bike SA magazine editor Paul Ingpen, and filmmaker Fergus Clark. He aims to use the footage to create a documentary, plus many others.
Paul Ingpen comments: “Like the rest of the talented crew of volunteers assembled by the Kariega Foundation, I was deeply moved by this cause. When a team shares a genuine, selfless common goal, the result is pure poetry to witness. No egos, no agendas, just sharing the unfolding story with the world, and that we did. The results speak for themselves.”
Thank you to near and far
Family, friends, media, staff and supporters assembled at Kariega Game Reserve for the uniquely South African event during the last weekend of August. Many others from around the world tuned in to the live social media broadcasts. The event breathed much-needed energy back into the reserve after being closed for five months due to COVID-19 lockdowns. The Kariega Game Reserve lodges partially re-opened to South African guests from 1 September.
Graeme Rushmere, Kariega Foundation trustee and Kariega Game Reserve co-owner comments, “We have been blown away by the support from around the world. We are hugely grateful to everyone who has contributed and donated. Over R400,000 has been raised for the Kariega Foundation Anti-Poaching Unit and community food relief programmes to date. Our hope is that Jamie’s cycle and the collaborative event will inspire others to face the fear, stress and hardships of the COVID-19 epidemic, and find similar motivation to build unity and help others in need.”