Capetonian Mark Keeling (21) emerged as the winner of the action-packed 2020 Fortuner Challenge, after a tough competition held in searing Gauteng heat. The pro paddler, who entered for the annual competition through Media24, was partnered with obstacle racing legend, Hanneke Dannhauser, and despite tough competition, managed to amass enough points to win a new Toyota Fortuner.
The fifth edition of the Fortuner Challenge was the first to be held in Gauteng, rather than the traditional backdrop of the Garden Route. But despite the change in scenery, as well as a shortened one-day format, the event retained its core mechanics, and offered a stern test to both contestants and heroes.
As before, four heroes – all related to Toyota in one way or another – were partnered with four contestants, who entered the competition through one of Toyota’s media partners. This year’s heroes were TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA driver Giniel de Villiers, Toyota Cheetahs rugby player Junior Pokomela, fitness athlete and obstacle racer Hanneke Dannhauser, and fitness queen Mapule Ndhlovu. Toyota Cheetahs player Clayton Blommetjies was the reserve hero.
The four contestants were Carla Erasmus from Johannesburg, Harold Durnez from Cape Town, Andries Kruger from Pretoria and Mark Keeling, who hails from Fishoek in the Cape.
The event saw the heroes and contestants paired into teams of two, who then took on five challenging tasks during the day. These included pulling a Toyota Fortuner across a field; driving a testing 4×4 course; and taking on an urban obstacle course in the ruins of the old Syringa Spa at Avianto, near Muldersdrift in Gauteng.
Two of Toyota’s partners, Garmin and Specialized, also sponsored tasks, with the participants taking on the Garmin Thread the Needle where precision and communication were key; while the Specialized cycle task taxed the contestants to the max, especially given the heat experienced in Gauteng at the time.
While winner Keeling is best known for his prowess as paddler, he persevered in the tough conditions to take the win – and bag the keys to a Fortuner in the process.