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After completing 13-peak challenge, 10-year old girl says: ‘It makes me feel strong and reminds me that I can achieve anything…’

Published Jul 15, 2023


Ten-year-old Mackenzie Knott, from Tableview, has conquered the 13 Peaks Challenge, after climbing 13 of Cape Town's most difficult peaks, to raise milk money for Rhino Orphans.

The challenge is part of Fit 4 Rhinos #rememberthemilk campaign and aims to assist orphaned rhinos.

Mackenzie said at first she decided to partake in the 13 Peaks Challenge, because she wanted to show her dad that she could also do “big” endurance challenges after her dad completed the challenge.

“After this, I have grown to love the mountain and nature together with keeping fit. Now I want to do this challenge to make a difference for animals in need (baby orphan rhinos).”

This is the third year that the 10-year old has completed the challenge and in total she has done 75 peaks.

She recently completed the 13 peaks for 2023 and has raised R15 000, surpassing her goal of R13 000.

She said: “I have always loved animals and I grew up with them. I have three dogs, three cats and fish.”

Mackenzie Knott runs on a mountain pass.

When asked which of the peaks were the toughest, she answered without hesitation “Devil’s Peak”.

“Devil’s Peak has been the toughest of all the peaks. Other challenges have been the icy temperatures and early mornings.”

Mackenzie said she wanted to become a professional trail runner and encourages other children to partake in these challenges as well.

“Completing these challenges makes me feel strong and that I can achieve anything. It will build confidence and kids will love the adventures of the outdoors on the mountain trails. It’s also cool spending long days with dad,” she quipped.

Her father, Gareth, said when his daughter asked to do the challenge at the age of eight he did not think she would be able to make it past the first two peaks, but she kept asking to go back for the next peak.

“When she asked to do it this year, I had all the confidence in her abilities on the trails and got excited for the time and memories we would make together.”

Knott said the mountain could be tricky over a long day as you encountered a lot of potential dangers in mountain edges, changes in weather, navigation, packing correct attire, enough nutrition and hydration, and facing certain rock scrambles.

“But this is what the adventure is all about. Always important to do your homework in advance before taking on the day. There is nothing more rewarding than pulling off a successful day experience in the mountains with your kid(s)”, he added.

Fit for Rhinos founder, Liezle Schoeman, said they were a fundraiser with a focus on fitness.

She explained: “Our sole aim is to create awareness regarding the plight of rhino orphans and prompt donations to buy Long Life Fat Free Milk for these babies under the care of the Charity Rhino Connect NPO. ”

All donations are generated via the GivenGain platform.

The challenge is a well known concept started by ultra runner Ryan Sandes.

Weekend Argus

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