Thomas climbs a Guinness World Record

Photo: Tyrone Bradley/Red Bull Content Pool

Hartbeespoort Word Champion Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) athlete, Thomas van Tonder, set an unofficial Guinness World Record for the 50 m rope climb on Tuesday, 17 November, when he scaled the 90 m Soweto Towers in just over 9 minutes.

He reached the 50 m point in 03:19.688, almost ‘n minute less than the world record. He is waiting for the official confirmation from Guinness World Records that he is now the new record holder.

Thomas, who has been dominating the South African OCR scene since 2014, when he first started competing, won the 100m OCR World Championships in 2019. He has been training since August for the climb.

“I initially started training at an indoor climbing gymnasium with an 11.6 m rope attached to the ceiling. I would climb up and be dropped down on a safety line, and climb back up again,” he said.

The climb up the Soweto Towers took months of strategising, planning and training and Robert spent a lot of time researching the right gear for the climb, such as finding the right shoes for grip and the correct rope that would not tangle and twist.

“It was an incredible day, exceeding all my wildest expectations. Finally, after all this build-up, I got to take to the main stage and put all the hard effort to the test. Except for one or two hiccups, the day was super successful. I got to the 50m mark and I was able to lock into the rope and take a second to catch my breath and look at my watch. I knew then that I had achieved an under four minutes time. It was then that I realised I still had another 40m to climb. That last part was brutal, as I had spent a lot of my energy already on the first 50m section, but I made it to the top and seeing the team there waiting for me was an unforgettable moment”, he said.

“I am now awaiting the official word from Guinness World Records  on my ‘Fastest 50m rope climb’ attempt.”