Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel to Circumnavigate Lesotho on 1 100km Run
Ultra-trail runner Ryan Sandes is ready to push the limits of his mind and body once again. As the first person to win the 4 Deserts Series, Sandes and his running partner Ryno Griesel have their sights set on Navigating Lesotho: a circumnavigational, approximate 1100-kilometre trail adventure at the Telle Bridge Border Post (start and finish) in the very early hours of the 10th of April 2022. Coming up from South Africa, Ryan and Ryno will be passing all the main Border Posts – especially the ones in the high mountains (Ongeluksnek, Qachas Nek and Ramatello’s Nek).
“I’ve been lucky enough to run on all seven continents, exploring mountains and jungles,” Sandes says. “What’s appealing about these trail journeys is how they constantly evolve. The weather changes. The environment changes. It provides you with a new challenge to tackle every day, and that’s what I’m looking forward to experiencing in Lesotho.”
After Sandes and Griesel tackled the Great Himalaya Trail across the Himalayas and Nepal on their last trail run, they discussed the opportunity to scale up and look to circumnavigate a country. “Post-lockdown, and not being able to travel as much as before, has had me thinking about how I wanted to explore southern Africa more,” Sandes explains. “I don’t feel I’ve explored enough of my home continent and believe this will be an awesome opportunity to experience the wonders of Lesotho first-hand.”
An ultra-trail like their planned loop around Lesotho, can be mentally taxing and gruelling – not only due to the number of days and kilometres to run but also the elemental and environmental factors including wild dogs that will need to be watched out for. Sandes, however, doesn’t see trail running as merely a sport but a lifestyle where every aspect makes up the whole experience. “I see this as a form of meditation and escapism,” he says. “When you’re circumnavigating a long terrain like this, you will go through a number of highs and lows – both physically and mentally. Staying in a positive headspace is essential because the mind has the power to control the body. I also joke to myself that I got into the situation, so I need to get myself out of it in the end.”
While Sandes and Griesel aim to finish the adventure in two weeks, Sandes wants them to enjoy the journey and not just the destination. To do so, they will need to look at it from a different angle. “Looking at it as 1100 kilometres can be daunting and mentally overwhelming,” Sandes says. “Even a daily target of 100 kilometres could seem like a lot. So, for us, it’s about breaking down the adventure into bite-size chunks. It’s about running 10 kilometres at a time. That’s the way to stay focused and not feel like it’s overwhelming.”
Ultra-running has been a way of life for Sandes for over 15 years now, and he says he’ll continue to do it for as long as he feels passionate about it. “It makes you feel alive and living every day as if it was your last,” Sandes says. “It combines both the physical and mental aspects, forcing me to adapt and evolve to the changes. More importantly, it challenges me as an athlete and a person. I enjoy pushing the limits with epic adventures and experiences like the Navigating Lesotho, which make me feel like I’m living life to the fullest. These will be the stories I will share with my grandkids one day in the future,” concludes Sandes.
To live track Ryan’s journey as he makes his way around Lesotho, click HERE.
WATCH the ‘Lessons from the edge’ documentary HERE.