Lion 500 Challenge
- By: Kosta Papageorgiou
- Short URL: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/lion-500-challenge
90 Summits Left...here's the update you yearned for...
We're in the Endgame now
Back in August 2017 when the Lion 500 challenge was conceived, I thought this was going to be a pretty straightforward thing. Identify the five causes that resonate with me, climb Lion’s Head Mountain 500 times, make a big fuss about it on Social Media, spread awareness for the causes, try get as close as possible to raising R500 000 (you can tell I was sticking with the number five as a theme) and attempt to make the world better, even if I made a small dent. What I had going for me was a few years’ experience working on cruise ship filled with important life lessons, the attitude that even unemployed I have a social responsibility to spread good energy.
I was already climbing Lion’s Head multiple times a week for fun and exercise so I was passionate about staying healthy by being out active in nature. I had some knowledge of using social media as a tool for spreading awareness. I was unemployed, but studying to get certified as an official tour guide. So I had time, but I didn’t have money, in fact I was dodging calls from debt collectors, sold some things that were purely materialistic to me. So I couldn’t really pump much cash into advertising or hiring someone to create the media needed to get my message out there. It was fairly simple for me, climb, eat, sleep and repeat. Youtube, google and the patience to sift through correct strategies is what I had at my disposal. I also had the support of my housemates, especially my good friend Eugene, who was patient with me and knew I was trying hard to land a decent gig in the tough business of hospitality. So there were humans involved that inspired and kept me going. I met people on my way up the mountain, via my marketing attempts on Facebook and Whatsapp Groups. Some of those friends are living in different continents, or moving there soon and I still feel really close to them. At the same time, I’ve lost friends or at least people I called friends, possibly due to my stupid ego, and in many cases their own. To narrow it all down, I had some interesting times, lessons, losses and gains, and with doing what I was trying to do, so many expected me to always be standing tall, courageous, committed and the closest example of some saint. What a lot of weight to carry.
I wasn’t really ready for it, sometimes so scared that I bit off more than I could chew. I experienced countless times of feeling depressed, anxiety, and feeling like a failure. I had to learn to coach myself out of it. Sometimes I was successful but so many times that I had to lean on others for conversation just to feel some positive energy. Some stuck around and were patient when I would experience bouts of anger, fear, doubt and anxiety, and then there were those who eventually left. I wouldn’t really blame those who left because you have different ways of practicing self-preservation.
Some are like real care bears and radiate positive energy in spite of the wreck standing in front of them, others are only strong enough to take care of their own souls and disappear off into the horizon without a trace, and that is quite alright, it’s definitely sad but as long as they are taking care of themselves it’s ok. I seek forgiveness and also forgive them for all the bad vibes and wish I wasn’t such a mampara but also know that I can’t afford to let the past mess with my soul.
Fast forward to September 2018, the month I was DREAMING of finishing the 500. Big emphasis on “dreaming” because it was possible mathematically but I’d have be an unemployed robot to do that. I am not a robot, and by July 2018 I was not unemployed either and started working for the company I dreamed of the year before. My personal life was great, I had the support and love of someone amazing, so amazing she climbed the mountain with me 8 times in two days. I’ll never forget that and neither will my grandkids if I ever have some.
Life was no longer just climb, eat, sleep and repeat. It became far more complicated and there was a real need for balance. To over-simplify it, life became more like, “work, eat, sleep, climb, spend time with partner and friends”. Looks simple enough on paper, but trust me it isn’t. Serious lessons in prioritizing had to be learned. Lines like, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” were drilled into my head by close friends. Over and above that, after 300 summits, my body started showing and feeling the mileage.
In October 2018, that stabbing feeling in my heel began. I was silly enough to think I could hike it off. Sometimes you have to be realistic and remind yourself you’re not Wolverine or The Hulk or Batman and that you need to take it easy on your body. So from climbing the mountain daily, I did it three or four times a week. I didn’t seek professional help, and thought I could take care of it at home. Remember back then I didn’t even know the name of what I had, I actually had NEVER heard of that specific injury, plantar fasciitis. Strange latin words.
After a few months of experimental treatments, spending a few thousands or rands, I found what works and I also found it there is no quick fix. Just lots of exercises and patience. Work also increased and since I felt strongly about showing gratitude to those who gave me a chance, I couldn’t turn down requests. Let’s not forget I also did not have a fat sum of cash in my bank account collecting interest and had to pay my bills, feed myself, and improve on marketing of Lion 500, pay overheads like petrol, health insurance, rent, and vehicle expenses. Decisions were made. I had to be both the Lion, and a responsible person. Nobody is interested in hearing about that kind of story. People expect you to be some sort of martyr sacrificing yourself just to make some short term statement and give immediate satisfaction. When in reality, what is important is that you do what is sustainable over long term and by that I mean years and decades.
If I destroy my body or soul now, I won’t be able to give back to the world in a few years. I won’t even be able to apply these valuable lessons I learned in the last two years. So forgive me for not being the consistent superman, but I think I’m far more useful as a Tony Stark building up knowledge and resources to one day be able to supply, support and accommodate teams of crazy adventurers like myself. I want to be able to pour my resources into helping people create the awareness they are aiming for in various causes whether it’s helping, humans, animals, societies and more importantly our environment.
Fast forward some more to September 2019. One hundred climbs in one year due to my physical and financial limitations. Some days of depression, but happiness as well. I’m alone again but still regard my former partner as a close friend in whom I see so much courage and positive energy and respect her. I have a few less of the old friends, some more new ones, my sponsors still believing in me, and my causes appreciating what I do. I look like Thor on Endgame because well, less climbing equals less calories burned. But I’m working on that now, focusing on a program that is sustainable for my body and mind. I relied so much on staying fit via the climbing and since the plantar fasciitis my body has gone backwards. Let me tell you, balance is a skills I’m working on.
I have 90 summits left. My goodness I’m both excited and dreading it, both anxious and motivated to just get it done. Some ask me in what time limit I’m going to do it. My answer, before my body gives up. I’m not falling for that trap again. Making deadlines now is just silly. I’ll play it the same way life should be played, and do my best every day, focus on that one day. The better question is, what happens after Lion 500 is done. Well…I feel I have given some hints in previous paragraphs for the long term plan. But in short terms after Lion 500, I’m going to give me body and mind some rest and rejuvenation. For now I think I’ll enjoy the ride, the company I get on my summits and just do my best. If you want to join me, you know where to find me. In fact there are three ways of getting to me. So never say I never invited you. You are invited. Just talk to me.
But remember... WE'RE IN THE ENDGAME NOW... join now or forever hold your peace.
Thank you to those who have supported me through everything, to those who put me in my place, to those who took me to amazing places, to those who taught me valuable lessons. I send good energy and hugs to you.
Running up mountains for these 5 Charities:
- Rape Crisis
- Animal Rescue (Fallen Angels and African Tails)
- Chipembere Rhino Foundation
- Depression SA
- WSAR (Wilderness Search and Rescue)
Why do I do it?
The hikes up Lionshead are for those who's power was taken from them, or have had lost it during life's events. It is a way to avenge those who suffer in silence, the humans and the animals.
The Lion 500 Challenge is an effort to inspire people from all walks of life to get back to what humans were designed to do. Be a collaobrative part of nature. As a human beings we are meant to take care of eachother, inspire eachother and empower eachother and use this combined strength to do the important thing and take care of other beings around us; humans, animals, plants and the elements which connect us all.
We are not only here to exist, but to fight for and empower humans and animals around us. We need each other. No person is an island. I have dedeicated to do the most simplest thing and reconnect with nature by going up a mountain 500 times. Along this journey I have come across animals, humans, plants and the true miracle of nature which is to bring peace back to the human spirit. To cut through all the materials we have become depended on and learn to trust and depend on eachother.
What an amazing journey this has become...educational and life changing.
I invite you to join me and beome part of the Lion 500 journey.
An Adventure With A Cause
Donors are elgible to join on a hike up Lionshead during any Lion 500 event.
Why Kosta chose these charities...
Rape Crisis is really special to me. It’s simple, I want to avenge those who have been victims and pass on good energy and even if I can pass on a teeny bit of personal empowerment, then I have made a dent. I have been educating myself on how much Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust is doing in the legal world to protect victims.
The South African Depression And Anxiety Group are close to my heart as I have lost a friend, and have friends, and have experienced depression myself. It is the silent killer which we need to talk about and stop looking away from. It’s a serious thing that you do not just snap out of. But what helps is providing a shoulder, a conversation, an exchange of good experiences and understanding.
Chipembere Rhino Foundation, it’s not just about the Rhinos but wildlife in general, IF WE CANNOT SAVE THE RHINO WITH ALL OUR RESOURCES AND INTELLIGENCE, THEN WE HAVE LOST. It’s symbolic of everything sacred and alive in the world. Protecting our environment instead of obsessing over material possessions. Save The Rhino, Save The World.
Fallen Angels Pet Rescue, it’s simple, we are the guardians of the world, the intelligent species and we are relied on by our furry friends to keep them safe, give them love and shelter and in return we get infinite love. There are thousands of dogs and cats who have been abandoned because of humans. Help us find a home for them. I know how difficult this can as Cape Town’s landlords in general make it impossible or costly to keep a loving pet. Fallen Angels do their best to care for and re-home these pets.
Wilderness Search and Rescue, this is an easy one to have close to my heart. Going up a mountain daily I have been part of few Mountain Rescue cases. Helping victims with broken bones, ligaments and other serious injuries down a mountain. This is not an easy process and not cheap either but we have real superheroes who offer their assistance for free to be first to the scene of mountain accidents and searches. They are volunteers but need the right tools and funding for serious rescue missions.
Read about Lion 500 in the News
- Sep 17, 2019 - USD $ 107.97
- "Thanks for your fundraising effort" - Irina & Martin
- Aug 26, 2019 - USD $ 34.48
- "Good luck Kosta!" - Nicola Longmuir
- Aug 09, 2019 - USD $ 69.96
- "Thanks for everything" - Saraceno family
- Jul 10, 2019 - R 257.05
- "400 summit's done keep at it Kosta you are nearly done. Stay focused you are doing great." - Single-track
- May 23, 2019 - R 1 028.20
- "Well done Kosta" - Brian
- May 19, 2019 - R 100.00
- "Thank you for taking us safely today and contributing to such great causes. God bless you Costa " - Ansuya
- Mar 29, 2019 - USD $ 36.02
- "“It is our choices, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – J.K Rowling" - Anonymous
- Jan 07, 2019 - R 50.00
- ":-)" - Elon Musk
- Jan 06, 2019 - R 100.00
- "Until we meet again " - Fats
- Jan 05, 2019 - R 203.00
- "Last summit before she closes for maintenance " - NoSpeedLimit
- Jan 04, 2019 - R 102.82
- "Its great to see fellow hiker's positive response seeing us collecting the trash. This is such a great initiative to keep our mountains clean." - Cathy Hoogenhout
- Jan 03, 2019 - R 1 000.00
- "Good work, Kosta." - Jackie Romanov
- Jan 03, 2019 - R 102.82
- "Keep up the good work, Kosta! I admire your determination. " - Cathy Hoogenhout
- Jan 02, 2019 - R 50.00
- "SnapScan" - Yolandi de Wet
- Jan 02, 2019 - R 100.00
- "SnapScan" - Kenneth Speed
- Dec 31, 2018 - R 110.00
- "Well done Kosta! Not my first and definitely not my last hike for the cause " - Shirees
- Dec 27, 2018 - R 102.82
- "Creating awareness not only for your causes, but also all the rubbish and graffiti on the mountain is truly heart warming! Thank YOU! On my way now to go fill some black bags!" - Jaco
- Dec 26, 2018 - R 102.82
- "You asked for out help due to injury, we're here for you like you are there for your causes" - Fats
- Dec 22, 2018 - R 101.50
- "First hike of many to help you reach the 500 mark" - NoSpeedLimit
- Nov 04, 2018 - R 1 300.02
- "Hope you doing better!" - Kiveli
- Oct 25, 2018 - R 154.23
- "will rather give 1% to your cause than price of party ticket " - Not NJ
- Oct 25, 2018 - USD $ 72.23
- "Kosta - You are an inspiration! Keep fighting the good fight! Your causes are important ones! Much Love & Gratitude for your purpose!" - Hogan Family
- Oct 12, 2018 - R 200.00
- "Thanks for guiding me on my first ascent! “Argentino”" - Leonel
- Oct 05, 2018 - R 1 157.06
- "Keep it going! " - Kiveli
- Oct 04, 2018 - R 102.82
- "thank you and Good Luck...will double again when 500 done!!" - Neil
- Sep 12, 2018 - R 110.00
- "Happy Birthday Lionman " - Wild Things Outdoor
- Sep 09, 2018 - R 1 417.50
- "You’re a great inspiration to many! You’ve got loads of support behind you! Keep climbing " - Kiveli
- Aug 28, 2018 - USD $ 37.16
- "Amazing commitment Kosta! Well done on your efforts and helping these charity’s!" - Deon Ebel
- Aug 17, 2018 - R 1 149.12
- "The mountain man of Africa... #almosthrough" - Kiveli
- Aug 12, 2018 - R 205.64
- "I'm in awe of your achievement so far Kosta" - Tony and Norma Davison
- Jul 18, 2018 - R 68.89
- "I am in awe of you.. Wish I could spend my 67 minutes with you today but alas.. Prior commitments " - Fats
- Jul 16, 2018 - R 308.46
- "Congratulations on 300 summits!" - Lauren
- Jul 14, 2018 - USD $ 7.93
- "Love the missions up the mountain! keep up the great work!!" - Tobias
- Jul 09, 2018 - R 308.46
- "Let the people of the nation grow the nation. Let's restore the "village"!" - Neo
- Jul 04, 2018 - R 1 028.20
- "Keep up the good work, motherfucker!" - Wilco
- Jul 03, 2018 - R 1 014.04
- "Keep Climbing " - Kiveli
- Jul 02, 2018 - R 514.10
- "I'm with you till the end of the line " - Nikki
- Jul 02, 2018 - R 514.10
- "Never give up hope. Even when you don't feel strong, some how things will all turn out just fine :) " - Anonymous
- Jun 28, 2018 - USD $ 37.98
- "I believe in your project and what you set out to achieve " - Anonymous
- Jun 19, 2018 - R 102.82
- "You are doing something amazing, good luck. " - Stephanie
- Jun 12, 2018 - R 514.10
- "Thanks for doing this for such amazing causes " - Tess
- Jun 12, 2018 - R 100.00
- "SnapScan" - Monique Thirion
- Jun 01, 2018 - R 658.70
- "Half way there!" - Kiveli
- May 31, 2018 - R 205.64
- "YES man!" - Anonymous
- May 30, 2018 - USD $ 41.44
- "Keep climbing, Kosta! You are doing so well." - Cathy Farmer
- May 29, 2018 - R 514.10
- "The best hike yet was in the pouring rain! Glad I got to be there with you!" - Wesley
- May 24, 2018 - R 514.10
- "Keep it up! Well done.." - Stu Abbott
- May 22, 2018 - R 1 000.00
- "Keep up the great work. I'm a big fan and have nothing but respect for your cause, tenacity and generous spirit. Well done!" - @MrChandlerHouse
- May 15, 2018 - R 250.00
- "SnapScan" - SnapScan
- May 14, 2018 - R 300.00
- "You are such an inspiration! Thank you for all your efforts in raising awareness about the plight of others." - Anusuya
- May 12, 2018 - R 514.10
- "Well done Kostas! The world needs more warriors like you! " - sandra
- May 11, 2018 - R 102.82
- "Inspired by your Adventure bud! Keep going. " - Wild Things Outdoor
- May 08, 2018 - R 359.87
- "For my shirt - looking forward to hiking The Lion with you again soon" - Kenneth Speed
- May 07, 2018 - R 154.23
- "It's people like you who should really be honoured for the challenging efforts you put yourself through to help out those in need. Keep up the good work!" - Wayne Hendrickse
- May 04, 2018 - R 260.00
- "Ask "Why?", and he'll respond, "Because I can." Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey with me, Kosta. And for being my hiking buddy on my first Lion's Head sunrise" - Vanessa
- May 02, 2018 - R 482.42
- "Life is about resistance, we need resistance in order to grow. " - Kiveli
- Apr 27, 2018 - R 102.82
- "Thank you for helping - every bit makes such a difference!" - Wendy De La Harpe
- Apr 27, 2018 - R 102.82
- "To an inspiring man getting others around him to get out more and think about those in need!" - Chloe De La Harpe
- Apr 25, 2018 - R 514.10
- "The world needs more people like you. It may feel too hard to continue the fight some days...but do not give up...you are who the rest of us look to for hope." - Charlene Weiss
- Apr 24, 2018 - R 102.82
- "Strongs brother you're doing an amazing job thusfar, almost half way!" - Roelof Louw
- Apr 22, 2018 - R 205.64
- "I admire your dedication, Kosta! Keep it up! I will join you for many more hikes." - Cathy Hoogenhout
- Apr 20, 2018 - R 205.64
- "Keep up the good work! Looking forward to join you again :)" - Anne Mone Frederiksen
- Apr 19, 2018 - USD $ 52.84
- "Good luck Kosta!" - Julianne Chai
- Apr 18, 2018 - USD $ 83.43
- "Go Kosta! Hear you roar. Awesome causes." - Lindiwe
- Apr 17, 2018 - R 514.10
- "370 to go. " - Kum Mulenga
- Apr 11, 2018 - R 1 028.20
- "Well done on 200 summits " - @Kyleincpt
- Apr 09, 2018 - R 734.86
- "Almost 200 keep going!" - Kiveli
- Apr 01, 2018 - USD $ 44.46
- "i wish i was there buddy to join your hikes :-) " - Dimitris/Mai
- Mar 31, 2018 - USD $ 17.79
- "Looking forward to hiking with you tomorrow " - The Speeds
- Mar 17, 2018 - R 514.10
- "Salute!" - Georgios Michaelides
- Mar 13, 2018 - R 110.00
- "Keep going kosta" - Aretha
- Mar 09, 2018 - R 500.00
- "Why climb Lions ahead any other way #Kosta@lionshead500challenge" - Christopher Heaney
- Feb 27, 2018 - R 510.00
- "Keep it up man! Amazing work :D " - Warryn
- Feb 23, 2018 - R 308.46
- "Happy birthday bro! Keep the legs moving and thanks for setting such a great example!" - Dwayne
- Feb 12, 2018 - R 514.10
- "Nothing short of admirable Kosta! " - Kim G
- Feb 11, 2018 - R 308.46
- "Thanks for an unforgettable experience Kosta and your personal commitment to the community. " - Duncan McMillan
- Feb 10, 2018 - R 5 000.00
- "Nice one Kosta. Keep up the awesome work!" - Anonymous
- Feb 07, 2018 - R 510.00
- "keep inspiring...." - Taahir Osman
- Feb 05, 2018 - R 400.00
- "Well done Kosta! Appreciate you taking care of the mountain and the people you see along the way each day. " - Lauren Medcalf
- Feb 05, 2018 - R 200.00
- "Great idea, keep up the good work" - Julie Scott
- Feb 02, 2018 - USD $ 26.65
- "You are the change that you wish to see in the world!" - Elias Vrohidis
- Feb 02, 2018 - R 102.82
- "Stay Strong :-)" - Mandy Meyer
- Feb 01, 2018 - R 407.74
- "Keep up the good work!" - Kiveli
- Feb 01, 2018 - USD $ 44.42
- "Thanks for all your help on the mountain last night!" - Christina
- Jan 31, 2018 - USD $ 43.33
- "It was a pleasure to hike with you Kosta. Thanks again for your help" - Carol and Donald Borland
- Jan 30, 2018 - USD $ 20.00
- "Keep going Kosta! " - Miriam Mannak
- Jan 18, 2018 - R 514.10
- "Look forward to many a lioning with you this year Kosta" - Katya Soggot
- Jan 12, 2018 - R 1 028.20
- "Great initiative." - YiorgoZ
- Jan 11, 2018 - R 117.21
- "Inspirational! We need more people with your dedication and perseverance and empathy" - Andrew