I think most people partaking in endurance events seek some or other inspiration to get them through the tough times of training and preparation. Be it watching the Nike’s ‘The Grind’ video – or watching Julie Moss crawl across the IronMan finish line in 1997 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVKqFAPdjIA , we need something to motivate us along the way.
As if not challenging enough to run 90km between the cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, The Human Race – as the Comrades Marathon is alternatively referred to – seems to evoke some crazy but crazily inspiring goals out of people.
I have a feeling that the slightly more emotional, ‘wear their heart on their sleeve’ personality types like myself probably get more inspired than others, but I’d find it incredibly difficult to believe that anyone couldn’t draw any inspiration from those putting themselves through pain and hardship for a cause other than their own.
Given that I’m into endurance events, I seek particular inspiration, while training and competing, from those putting themselves through crazier goals, longer distances, greater hardships and more pain. Throughout the various challenges I’ve set myself over the last 24 months, I’ve constantly sought inspiration from these individuals around me doing great things and achieving amazing goals.
Just some of the many that have inspired me over the last year as I pursued Comrades Marathon and IronMan South Africa goals are:
- Pieter du Preez (aka Supapiet), the first quadriplegic (yes you heard that right) to complete an IronMan triathlon – http://www.theyellowcap.com/supapiet-pieter-du-preez-becomes-ironpiet/
- Hein Wagner, a blind South African that has completed IronMan South Africa 2013, the ABSA Cape Epic in 2011 amongst a bunch of other amazing achievements – http://www.heinwagner.co.za/
- Team Garwood – the team of Kevin Garwood and his disabled son Nikki who completed IronMan South Africa (2013) – http://www.teamgarwood.co.za/
With the Comrades Marathon just 10 short days away, I intentionally stuck to South Africans, but there are many more amazing people in international sports doing incredible things.
But as we are focused on the Comrades Marathon, I want to use it as a backdrop to highlight some individuals that are pushing, nee smashing the envelope of what most think possible and most encouragingly a large component of why they are doing what they are doing, is to raise money for charity.
JOHN MCINROY AND THE UNOGWAJA CHALLENGE
When Phil Masterson-Smith, the youngest (aged 19) winner of the Comrades Marathon back in 1931, couldn’t afford the train fare from Cape Town to the Comrades Marathon 2 years later, he hopped on his bicycle and rode the 1,700 kilometres from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg and finished in 10th position.
When John McInroy heard the story, he was moved enough to replicate the endeavour 78 years later and in 2011 he and 3 other brave souls succeeded in cycling the 1,677 km’s in 10 days and then running the Ultimate Human Race on the 11th day.
And so the Unogwaja (a name Masterson-Smith was affectionately known by) Challenge was born.
The goal of the challenge is to raise money for the Comrades Marathon Association’s Amabeadibeadi charity, an umbrella group that looks after 6 fantastic charities
This year they set the target at a lofty R1,000,000, a target they surpassed just a few days back, causing them to revise the target up to an incredible R2,000,000.
This year’s team comprises 12 brave people, 9 guys and 3 gals from 5 different countries with a dedicated support staff of 16.
The cycle begins on Thursday the 22nd of May and the ‘crew’ will cycle an average of 175km’s per day with an average elevation gain of 2,000 metres per day, arriving in Pietermaritzburg on the morning of Saturday 31st of May just in time to set off the following morning to run to Durban.
It’s an incredibly tough challenge and one that should make those lining up for the Comrades Marathon on Sunday the 1st of June feel a hella va lot better than they would had they cycled there. Check out the full details here – http://www.unogwajachallenge.com/Journey.aspx
The inspirational John McInroy has been a busy boy. As if the Unogwaja wasn’t enough, he also launched another very cool initiative called Red Sock Friday. It’s an incredibly fun and novel way of remembering friends while at the same time raising money for charity. This year, although not run on a Friday, the Red Sock Friday initiative will meet the Comrades Marathon in the form of the Red Love Train, a group of individuals that have committed to raising funds for charity, and will run together in a large in a large group in red socks. Check out the Red Love Train details here – http://www.unogwajachallenge.com/2014RedLoveTrain.aspx
The story of the Unogwaja Challenge and the red socks are both about following your heart, and that anything is possible if you dare to try.
We salute you Sir Mcinroy. Good luck next weekend and keep up the excellent work.
You can check out the Amabeadibeadi charities and make a donation at this page – http://www.unogwajachallenge.com/Donate.aspx
Make sure you follow the team at:
Twitter / Instagram – @theunogwaja
Youtube channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/UnogwajaChallenge
Reck Sock Fridays – http://iwearredsocksonfridays.tumblr.com/
HAZEL MOLLER AND THE TEN10 CHALLENGE
The Comrades Marathon is a special race and most South Africans have a special interest in it and a special place for the intrepid souls that partake in it.
It’s an event that is central to the South African running scene.
This year 3 crazy runners are planning the ultimate running challenge. They plan to run the 90km Comrades distance each day consecutively, for the 9 days leading up to the 1st June, culminating with competing in the Comrades on the 1st June 2014. The equivalent to running ten Comrades in 10 days.
Why the hell on God’s Green Earth would someone do that you may ask?
- Hazel Moller – the chief protagonist – says quite simply, that she runs because she loves it. She goes on to say: “It makes me feel alive. And it reminds me of just how blessed I am to have a wonderful husband and family, a healthy body, a roof over my head and food in my belly.” When I run I often contemplate why I have been so blessed, and last year when I did the Double Washie for charity, I realized I am only blessed so that I can pass my blessing on!”
If only we all had an outlook like that.
When asked WHY on eNCA news, Hazel said: “The challenge of the Comrades Marathon attracts the attention of donors. If you say you’re doing one, people are impressed, if you say you are doing 10, hopefully they open their purses.
Watch the interview here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0nHVl5LOdA
- Hilton Murray claims Hazel convinced / forced him to join the adventure and that it would save him in fuel costs getting down there.
- When Carlo Gibson competed in the Year to year 6 day race he felt that he had finally made it home. He goes on to explain; “The people I met were all on my wavelength when it came to pushing your body beyond its capacity. I felt challenged and captivated by the ultra ultra-marathon”. So when he heard that some crazy lady wanted to run to Durban, he thought, “cool, sounds like a nice challenge.”
The incredible trio will be raising money for two charities:
PINK DRIVE – a breast cancer awareness initiatve that has mobile breast cancer screening units that brings professional screening free of charge to women who seldom have the opportunity to receive such a service.
PETS – Pet Empowernment in Townships – Looking after animals in distress in poverty stricken areas where pets are often neglected or left to fend for themselves.
They have called their charity drive the Ten10 Challenge and have setup a website –http://www.ten10.co.za/
Well done Hazel, Hilton and Carlo. I am truly inspired and will be following your every step with keen interest.
The team head off on Friday the 23rd of May and their support team will be posting regular updates to share their experiences as they travel the incredible 900km distance through South Africa.
Donations can be made online on their site and messages of support and encouragement can be posted on:
- Their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tencomrades ) OR
- On Twitter (@hazel_moller ).
Having raised money for a London Marathon and New York City Marathon effort while living in London, fundraising efforts through sport have always appealed to me. I have joined the Red Love Train this year and in so doing will do my little bit for charity.
But seeing the efforts of the incredible people above, I definitely plan to do something in the future on a much bigger scale and a little crazier than previous exploits and hope that I can in turn inspire others, as they have inspired me.
Good luck to you all and see you on the start line in Pietermaritzburg next Sunday.
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