I was very intentional in giving myself a decent amount of time to relax, recharge and recover before putting finger to keyboard for a wrap-up of my incredible Mad2Run experience. So how was it?
It’s so difficult to articulate what a special, challenging and life-affirming experience it was that I was going to opt for a simple “F*&$ing incredible”. However, having just yesterday been cautioned that I swear to much by my dear Mum, I’m going to go with the beautiful words of one of our great philosopher / thinker / poets of the 21st century, Borat, instead when I say – “Wa wa wee wa.”
Brevity is not my strong suit, but I’ve tried incredibly hard to keep this concluding post as short as possible. For anyone reading this that didn’t catch my Facebook posts and wants more detail on the daily ins and outs of the experience, I’ve curated those posts into a sequential ‘journey’ on my Ultrabloke website, which you can access here –
What made it so special? Well having dwelt on it for a while, I’ve broken it down into a few key components.
THE MAD LEADERSHIP FOUNDATION – AN AMAZING CHARITY
While it was a great physical challenge and there was plenty of fun had, the event exists first and foremost to raise funds for the amazing Mad Leadership Foundation.
Given our history in South Africa and the large income disparity between the haves and have-nots we are confronted almost daily charities vying for our attention and hoping they can convince us to part with some of our well-earned cash to hopefully make a difference in the lives of those they support.
With the rampant corruption and poor leadership out there, the funding for many charitable bodies and institutions that help the needy are failing, making it all the more desperate.
The plethora of different charities and causes can become a bit overwhelming at times, so it was fantastic for me personally to discover an incredible charity that I firmly believe will have a massive positive impact not just on the lives of the scholars it supports, but in so doing the future leaders of South Africa.
Having researched the charity (for my writing), met some scholars along our journey, chatted to event organisers Dayle and Shaun Raaff, heard founder Francois Pienaar talk passionately about the work they do and probably most tellingly witnessed close-up and first-hand the drive, capability and character of one of the Mad Leadership alumni, David Hatherall, who did the entire Mad2Run with us so he could in-turn give back. In his speech in Cape Town on the Friday, Francois explained that David had been elected onto the Exec of the Mad Leadership Foundation so that he could play a role in steering the future of the charity.
And that is one of the core tenets of the charity; not just to help talented scholars complete their education, but in so doing, to create educated, capable and well-rounded future leaders for South Africa. In David, that goal is already well on its way to being realized.
It really is moving and inspiring stuff and just knowing our physical and fundraising efforts were going towards this particular charity meant that we were never short of motivation.
If you need any more convincing and want to know a bit more about the Foundation or how Shaun and Dayle started this amazing event, check out this post – http://ultrabloke.com/my-mad2run-adventure-joburg-to-ct/
Two of the MAD Leadership foundation scholars.
CHALLENGING PHYSICAL LIMITS
I’ve now completed quite a few ultra-distance events in both the running and cycling disciplines, so I have some idea of the capability of the human body.
But as much as I may have challenged myself and as tough an event as I’ve completed, there are always bigger and badder events out there and humans completing jaw droppingly difficult challenges that both inspire and make me question what else I might be able to do. The Race Across America, Badwater and Marathon de Sables are just a few of the crazy-ass formal events out there.
Then are some folk that put together their own bat-shit-crazy challenges like Brit Ross Edgley who took 157 days to swim around the whole coast of mainland Great Britain at the end of 2018 for his Red Bull Great British Swim.
Now I’m not suggesting that Mad2Run is as tough as any of those, but when some mates ran it last year (2018) my interest was certainly piqued as to how many kilometres could possibly be run in consecutive days and what total could be reached at the end of a week.
My original plan was 210 (30 per day). The outcome – full data / stats on the weeks running activities below.
Clear rows = daytime sessions.
Light orange = early-evening sessions
Grey = Nighttime sessions
Green cells = speed tests (1 x 10km shift towards Ceres, and 2 x 1km sprints into Cape Town) – click on the hyperlinks to read what each of those was about.
Another fascinating element to the week and one’s physical limitations, is how much recovery (most beneficial in the form of sleep) you’re getting when you’re not running.
And I had definitely not anticipated this factor until literally the night before we left when I chatted to someone from the previous year (RE gear and packing) and he mentioned it.
Conventional wisdom suggests that the optimal amount of sleep per night is between 7-8 hours to rest properly. Sporting wisdom suggests at least that when subjecting yourself to strenuous activity.
Mad2Run simply doesn’t afford you that. My sleep stats (courtesy of my Garmin watch) displayed below. And with the daily running, and only 5 hours of sleep a day, plus maybe the odd cheeky half hour squirreled away while on shift, it become a lot more challenging. The amusing side of that is the mind not functioning properly. Cue ‘look at those ducks’ story from this Day Five post.
Then littered about the week, is the requirement on a regular basis to set up camp and take down camp. Depending on how much or how little you helped out, this could end up like a full-on half hour crossfit effort, particularly the task of moving bags onto and off the main transport van.
So ‘rest days’ most often didn’t involve ‘pure’ resting, but rather a variety of activities to help keep the good ship Mad ever moving forward.
Have a look at the timelapse below for what a camp erection (suppose you need to be careful in what context you use that phrase) looks like.
Dovetailing very nicely off the point above is how personal the Mad2Run experience is for each participant and one of the things that make it so unique and rewarding.
And this ‘personalisation’ of the whole experience is because of the unique ability for each runner to decide on the distance they want to run in each shift. I’m not sure what it was like in other shifts, but all the teams we shared a shift with were so flexible and relaxed that we’d literally just decide on the distances any one runner would tackle, right then, on the fly.
In addition to that, aside from the very welcome once-off donations, donors are also given the opportunity to pledge a Rand amount per kilometer a runner completes. This obviously motivates runners to run as far as is physically possible.
Each runner is encouraged to set a personal goal before the week which they can share with prospective donors so they at least have an idea of what they’re monetary commitment might be and the possibility that they may have to add to it if the goal is surpassed. When I fell just 5 short of my goal 210 goal on my 5th shift (of a definite 6 with the possibility of the short 7th into CT), I reset it to 250, which I then hit.
So each runner can set their own very unique personal challenge dependent on their running ability / experience. This has the amazing effect of the achievement of a 150km goal for a novice runner being just as celebrated and respected an effort as a more accomplished runner hitting 300.
Everyone is out there busting their gut testing their own personal limits, with their own personal goals and fundraising targets.
CAMARADERIE / FRIENDSHIPS
Teamwork is an interesting thing.
When a team is placed under extreme duress, it sometimes has a somewhat polarizing effect on the individual members of that team. Some often retreat into self-preservation mode where anything outside of their own immediate interests is ignored. Other more noble mortals, realise the struggles befall their comrades as well as themselves and put some self-interest aside for the ultimate success of the team.
This latter effect was writ large on this adventure, and despite the sleep deprivation, long kilometres and other admin, I personally didn’t experience a grumpy, angry or selfish soul the whole week. In fact, I couldn’t imagine my immediate teammates (Katie and Holly) and the 15 other people I had the privilege of sharing my shifts with, being kinder, more concerned or less self-serving.
Over previous events, the Mad2Run brainstrust has created a safe-word, that Mad2Runners can use in times of extreme tiredness / angst or when at breaking point. This mechanism works as follows; if said individual, in dire straits, cries out “Mango” in a loud voice, any and all around them are to immediately abate from any contact with them and simultaneously give them as much time and space as humanly possible to let them reboot. An indication of how good my week was – I didn’t hear Mango called once.
From the disassembling and erecting of camps, to the packing of food and drink boxes for each shift, the care shown for the wellbeing of team mates during the shifts; the whole week felt to me like I was operating in a utopian world where everyone operated unselfishly towards the ultimate goal of the collective. If day to day life was like that in our work, family and neighbourhood environments, it would be a considerably better place.
During the shifts, many friendships were fostered that I’m confident will persist well into the future. I will definitely be hooking up with people I got to know during the week and I look forward to reminiscing with them over our amazing week and achievement over many an ice-cold bevvie.
Subjection to physical and emotional strain often means there is little if any fun involved. That wasn’t the case at all during the week.
Initially going into the week, I wondered to what extent we’d be able to have a few celebratory drinks. I wondered if the physical exertion would allow it. Sitting in the Spur in the short 8-hour rest before my suicide shift (see post here – ‘The Twilight Zone’, I wondered whether a Castle Draught was a good idea. But when other, more well-rested runners off a fresher shift went for it, I just couldn’t decline. And man did it do the trick. If you read that post, I had to drink it sooper slowly to intentionally restrict myself from having a second.
The following morning, laughing hysterically while Ryan Tyack stoically consumed a four Savanah fine, incurred while packing up camp at Grey Bloem, my caution around the consumption of a solitary beer the day before seemed particularly misplaced.
And so, I ‘unwound’ into the week and became less worried about conserving myself each day and realized that 2-3 celebratory drinks at the end of a shift were great for the replenishment of mind and soul.
The small rave party in the back of the bus on the way to Victoria West camp at the end of a particularly awesome Monday shift was definitely a highlight of the week. Brad Nowikow even giving it some Borat style ‘sexy-time’ at the end of the mania that was dancing to Darude’s ‘Sandstorm’ – see vid below.
In fact, we had such fun that evening that after viewing that video on my Facebook page, some family and mates questioned whether we were doing any tough work at all.
Not all the fun was booze-fueled. There was all sorts of other fun that punctuated the week from sharing fart and snoring stories from tents the night before, through to the odd existential discussion on a mushy brain with a similarly sleep-deprived Mad2Runner.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
I obviously knew we were raising funds going into the event and I’ve raised funds for many of the sporting adventures I’ve partaken in over the years. But this one was different and on reflection, aside from the physical element of the running, involved a lot more.
Maybe it’s the lengthy nature of the event. Maybe it’s in the realization that the charity you’re fundraising for is a special one that is making a tangibly meaningful difference. Or maybe it’s because of the inspiring and emotive speeches that Shaun and Dayle give at odd intervals throughout the week.
But whatever it was, I couldn’t help walking away with a particularly warm fuzzy feeling at the difference our efforts would be making in the lives of others.
On the surface, Mad2Run can look simply like a weeklong jol involving some running and fundraising. But beneath that, there’s a lot more involved.
Every participant must take a week’s leave from work. To handle the physical effort, they must sacrifice time away from various activities to get in the requisite amount of training. And then above all, and potentially most difficult, they must bury any anxiety / embarrassment about seeking donations from their network of friends and family and conceive of and host a fundraising event outside of the main running event itself.
Fundraising events thrown by Mad2Runners included Sundowner cocktails at Fergusons 5th Floor, a comedy dinner at 86 Public in Randburg, an afternoon drinks party at Rockets Bryanston and a Rhinonkey Derby (I unfortunately missed it – don’t ask me to explain).
It involves a gargantuan effort on many fronts and Dayle highlighted that excellently in her talk before we left Meyersdal on day one – see clip below. And those words made me feel considerably prouder than I had initially at the effort we’d all made and what we’d achieved.
Her sentiments were echoed in an excellent post-election piece my mate Carel Nolte penned – Quick reflections from a privileged white male – when he said that rather than simply vote every 5 years and then sit back and moan at what isn’t happening in our country, “we must all contribute. Yes, contribute.”
And that brings me to the end of a very special event, strong memories of which I am confident will remain with me forever, together with a sense of pride at the funds we managed to raise and the difference we will hopefully be making in the lives of some talented South Africans.
Thank you, Shaun, and Dayle Raaff for committing yourselves so wholeheartedly to making a difference in our beautiful South Africa. You are truly inspiring and I’m supremely confident that the results of your efforts will spread wider and live on longer than you’ll ever know. Thank you.
Please remember that this event is all about those scholars, so if you’ve enjoyed following our adventures and have been in any way inspired by our actions, PLEASE take action yourself and donate to this amazing event.
PAYFAST card facility –
EFT Deposit – Bank Details
MAD2Adventures for a Cause
Acc No: 62466617077
Branch code: 260 231
Section18A tax certificates can be issued on request for all cash donations.
Just scan the QR code and then click on the screen just below the “Edit Amount” text and manually type in your desired contribution (very important as the little plus symbol to step up in R50 increments doesn’t always work)