DRY RUN: Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University student Nandipha Jack atop Lady Slipper mountain. Jack, accompanied by Deputy Director at Madibaz Sport Steven Thomas, went on the 5km trail in preparation for the 43km Inca Trail at Peru’s Machu Pichu mountain.
EXCITEMENT and nerves are getting the better of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) #Trailblazing student Nandipha Jack, after a dry run at the 5km Lady Slipper trail this week.
Admittedly a far cry from the 43km she will have to climb in the gallant attempt to raise R4-million to fund academically deserving but financially needy students, Jack, 23, said the climb on Thursday was the eye opener she needed.
Jack will join NMMU Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz, businesswoman Dr Bridgette Gasa, Chancellor Santie Botha and 20 others in taking on the 43-km Inca Trail at Peru’s Machu Picchu as the students’ flag bearer later this month.
Jack, a third-year public management student for whom studying had been a pipe dream until she was awarded a netball scholarship, said she went on the Lady Slipper trail to get acquainted with climbing.
“I know it’s not the same – 5km versus 43km – but having never climbed before, I wanted to get an idea of what I would feel and experience while climbing,” she said.
“I know it’s not the same, but I just went up Lady Slipper because it was the closest climb for me and cheaper. Now I’m a bit nervous about the trip because climbing Lady Slipper opened my eyes and I realise that the actual climb will not be easy.”
Clad in her NMMU tracksuit and hiking boots bought especially for the four-day climb from September 1 to 4, Jack was accompanied up the mountain – situated just 32km outside Port Elizabeth – by some members of the NMMU Madibaz Sports.
“Lady Slipper was quite steep, with so many inclines going up. It was very challenging in the beginning because I was rushing to get to the top, but I realised that it is all about pacing yourself and not wearing yourself out so early into the climb,” she said.
Jack began her studies at NMMU on a netball scholarship before securing NSFAS funding. She said she could have easily been one of the students forced to drop out in her final year due to a lack of funds.
After the challenging Lady Slipper climb, Jack said while it was no easy feat, it was one she felt she had to do.
“I really want to show the students that your journey may not always be easy, but if you set your sights firmly on your goal it drives you to completion,” she said.
“Challenging and scary as all this is becoming now, I’m very excited about being part of something so big.”
Jack, accompanied by Prof Swartz, will buy the rest of her climbing gear next week.
Jack and the rest of the #Trailblazing team set off for Peru on August 26, aiming to raise R25 000 for each of the 160 final year students battling with funds to complete their studies.
So far, R1.2-million has been raised, with staff, students and the general public urged to do their part to raise funds to reach the R4-million target.