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David's Blog

Thursday, June 30, 2011 - 17:26
My Gobi March Story - “No Pain, No Gain” - Running Through the Gobi Desert with a Mission

4 July 2012

SANGONeT celebrates a very significant milestone in 2012 - our 25th anniversary. We have much to be very proud of and would like to celebrate our achievements in the appropriate manner throughout the year. But 2012 is not about SANGONeT and our achievements, only. The services we provide and the activities we implement are a direct response to the challenges facing NGOs in South Africa and beyond. Without the activities of other NGOs, and their need for information, communication and technology services, there will be no role for SANGONeT.

We are therefore using our 25th anniversary to celebrate SANGONeT's achievements, as well as recognise the unique contribution made by NGOs to South African society in general. And the annual “No Pain No Gain” campaign is the perfect platform to create and maintain the necessary interest and momentum in this regard throughout 2012.

But this means only one thing. In order to make the campaign and our 25th anniversary celebrations extra special - the campaign will have to be tougher and more extreme than before. Simply put, more desert races!

As a result, now in its third year, the 2012 campaign include both sand and snow linked to three footraces through three deserts on three continents - Namib Desert, Gobi Desert and Antarctica - and will require me to run approximately 750km in some of the toughest and most demanding conditions on the planet!

After completing the Namib Desert Challenge in March 2012, the focus now shifted to the second desert race of the 2012 campaign – the Gobi March from 10-16 June 2012 in China.

Having completed similar races in the past two years through Africa’s three mighty deserts - Kalahari, Sahara and Namib – the Gobi March was my first race on “foreign” soil. It was therefore going to be a totally new experience with its own unique challenges.

It took almost two days of flying from Johannesburg via Beijing to Kashgar, in the far west of China, and then a few hours by bus, to get to the starting line of the race. In between, I also spent two days in the smog and pollution of Beijing en route to Kashgar.

But having done these type of races before, including the Namib Desert Challenge earlier in the year, I definitely started the Gobi March in the best possible physical condition given my work and family commitments, and the time I had available to train and prepare for the race.

But a six-stage desert footrace in extreme conditions does not always follow the planned script. The first two and a half days of running were great, followed by a real struggle during the latter part of day three, most of day four and the start of day five, and then it all changed again, with my running on the latter part of day five and the final day definitely some of the best that I have experienced in all my desert races.

Ultimately, I am grateful that I survived the challenges of the Gobi March and the mighty Gobi Desert.

I finished the race in 36h18 and 28th position overall. The Gobi March, like any other desert race, is tough, very tough. The undulating and rugged terrain was very hard on the feet and body in general. But driven by a “No Pain No Gain” attitude, and because everyone suffers together, the spirit and camaraderie between competitors, organisers, medical staff and the support crew, made this a truly unique experience.

George Chmiel, one of my tent mates during the race, refers to competitors in these desert races as “warriors”, because unless you are willing to “fight”, you will not survive the physical and mental challenges of a race such as the Gobi March.

Although my words can’t do justice to this experience, I have tried to capture it in a manner - three parts in total - which will hopefully provide you with some insight into the race, the Gobi Desert, my overall experience and the meaning of it all - both personally, and to the work of SANGONeT and the South African NGO sector in general.

Part 1 covers the build-up to the Gobi March, including my preparations, the “No Pain No Gain” fundraising campaign and the final countdown to the start.

Click here to read more.

Part 2 covers the actual race, with a day-by-day account of my experiences and observations while running 250km through the Gobi Desert.

Click here to read more.

Part 3 covers my reflections on various issues related to this unique experience, including the challenges of completing an extreme event of this nature and why I would do it all over again.

Click here to read more.

Although the Gobi March is now something of the past, the “No Pain No Gain” race to R1 million is far from over. We still need more donations, and you have until 30 November 2012 to pledge your support.

Please make a donation and encourage others to do the same.

Next up is my third and final desert race of the year, the “Last Desert” race from 16-22 November 2012 through the snow of Antarctica.

Click here for updates about the build-up to this race and for general information about our “No Pain No Gain” campaign.

Also view the various NGO Profiles which we continue to publish as part of the campaign.

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Gobi March 2012 - Rest Day

15 June 2012

Greetings from Camp 6 in the Gobi Desert.

It is the day after the Gobi 'Long Day' and there is no running today!

By now you will have seen the results of yesterday and know that I had a very good day - finishing the 76km stage in 11h32 and 35th position. My overall position is now 29th.

The long day started with a two-hour bus trip from camp 5 to the starting point.

My start to the stage was no different to the previous two days - slow and going now where fast. I reached the halfway mark in 6h40 and 65th position. We got caught in a thunderstorm at this point and maybe this is what I needed to get going. With rain pounding down I started running at a nice pace and finished the second 38km in less than 5 hours, making up 30 positions. My feet were really hurting towards the end, but it was all about finishing strong and also "enjoying" the experience of completing the long day.

The route for most of this stage was next to the Kunlun mountain range which separates China and Pakistan. The snow-capped mountains are just a magnificent site.

Today everyone are either sleeping, cleaning blisters or walking around like wounded soldiers. The rugged and stoney surface of the past few days has really left its mark on most competitors feet. We will all return home with real evidence of a desert race!

Tomorrow we have the final stage - 15km to the end of the 2012 Gobi March.

I will write the next update from the comfort of my hotel room in Kashgar - after my first shower in 7 days!

Please remember to support the SANGONeT 'No Pain No Gain' fundraising campaign.

I would like to thank everyone who have e-mailed me messages of support and commented on my blog posts. Many many thanks.

Until next time.

'No Pain No Gain'

David

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Gobi March 2012 - Stage 4

13 June 2012

Greetings from Camp 5 at the end of stage 4.

Another brutal day for me. Finished 64th in 8h21. No energy and just not into the race as on the first two days. Not sure if it is the altitude.

However, despite the tough course today, we still had the priviledge of seeing Shipton’s Arch / Heaven’s Gate. Amazing site and fantastic views from up there.

After that it was just one up and down hill after the other, in most cases close to scary cliffs and on loose gravel and stones. I don’t like heights and that 12km stretch tested my nerves to the extreme. I also lost a lot of time during this stretch.

The rest of the day was just long and tiring.

Now it is only the ‘Long March’ that remains – stage 5 - 76km.

Hopefully I will have some better news to report on tomorrow night.

Remember to support the SANGONeT ‘No Pain No Gain’ fundraising campaign – www.ngopulse.org/npng.

Thank you for all the messages of support.

Until the next update from the Gobi Desert.

'No Pain No Gain'

David

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Gobi March 2012 - Stage 3

12 June 2012

Greetings from camp 4 at the end of stage 3. The stage was called “Langerville”.

Today was a tough day at the office. Completed the 35km in 5h55, 32nd position.

Although my position for today is disappointing, many competitors finished quite close together, so hopefully my overall position is still not too bad.

Today was just one big uphill over rocks and gravel. We crossed many canyons and river beds. We started at 1663m, checkpoint 1 was at 1793m, checkpoint 2 at 1890m, checkpoint 3 at 2100m, and the finish at 2525m – a net gain of almost 900m!

I went through checkpoint 2 in 16th position, but then fell very hard going down a steep slope – I have a sore left shoulder and a bruised left palm – but that’s life – “No Pain No Gain”. Thereafter I just did not feel like running, but hopefully are my fast first two days, it was a blessing in disguise and that I saved some valuable energy.

My feet are still ok, no blisters, so overall I’m ok. Must just get my head ready for tomorrow’s 4th stage of 42km. We have been warned that it will be very tough, so after today, we are not sure what to expect.

Tonight is expected to be very cold given the height of the campsite. Hopefully I will have a good rest before tomorrow’s challenge.

Today’s tough stage will no doubt result in a number of drop outs. It is sad to see people dropping out, but these undulating stages over very rocky terrain take no prisoners.

Thank you for all the blog comments and e-mail messages. Really appreciate them. But please keep them going.

Remember to support the SANGONeT “No Pain No Gain” fundraising campaign with a donation – www.ngopulse.org/npng. We value your support.

Until the next update from the Gobi Desert.

“No Pain No Gain”

David

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Gobi March 2012 - Stage 2

11 June 2012

Greetings from camp Langerville at the end of stage 2 of the 2012 Gobi March.

I had a great day, finishing the 39km distance in 5h02, 15th position for this stage. I know most people back home will have sleepness nights about my fast start to the race, but I’m really feeling good. My food, nutrition, backpack and other equipment are all making this a very “pleasant” experience so far!

Today’s course was called “Mars in the Gobi”. The first part was again very undulating, with more ups than down, than a fairly flat 10km over open veld to the third checkpoint, and then a big 4km climb before a steep 4km downhill, and a final flat 2km.

After a slow first few kms with stiff legs from yesterday, I started feeling stronger and stronger and passed a number of runners over the last 15km.

The course remains very rocky, and although I still don’t have any blisters, my feet are sore. However, no blisters are a big bonus and I hope this situation remains the same for the rest of the race.

After staying in the Tashpushka village last night, we are back in our tented village today in what looks like a cut-down wheat field.

We have a great tent with everyone getting along without any issues – although my snoring is again an “evolving issue”!

Remember to follow and support the SANGONeT “No Pain No Gain” fundraising campaign – we need your support – www.ngopulse.org/npng.

Tomorrow’s third stage is called “Langerville” and will be 35.6km in length.

I miss everyone at home and the office.

Until the next update from the Gobi Desert.

“No Pain No Gain”

David

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Gobi March 2012 - Stage 1

Day one of the 2012 Gobi March is done and dusted!

I finished the first stage in 3h55 in 18th position overall and could not have asked for a better start. I ran with Ryan Hill, one of my tent mates, for a big part of the day and it was great to run with company for a change in the desert.

After a fairly undulating first 10-12km, the rest of the day was relatively flat, although we ran straight into a strong head wind for most of the day. It also wasn’t too hot, but the course was rocky and rough on the feet. Given the rain that fell earlier in the week and rising rivers as a result, the length of today’s course was reduced from 42km to 32km. No one is complaining, and as a result, a few more people had a comfortable first day.

Everyone in our tent finished day one which is great start.

After sleeping in our first tented camp last night, tonight we are sleeping in a small village called Tushpushka. Every tent has been allocated a room in a villager’s house – not much in each room other than a thick carpet. However, this is already much better than the rocky surfaces on which we slept last night. The toilet is shared with a few cows!

Overall impressions of day – I feel my training schedule really helped. I felt strong all day and hope tomorrow will be another good day. No blisters and stiff legs, although my backpack is too heavy and I will have to reduce the weight tonight.

Tomorrow’s stage 2 will cover 39km and is called Tashpushka.

Great to hear that the Bokke won against England!

Please remember to follow and support our ‘No Pain No Gain’ campaign – www.ngopulse.org/npng.

Until the next update from somewhere in the Gobi Desert.

‘No Pain No Gain’

Cheers!
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The Waiting is Over

9 June 2012

The big day has finally arrived.

After travelling from Beijing to Kashgar on Friday - it almost took the whole day - we are now getting ready for a two hour bus trip into the GobI Desert to Gazi where we will stay for the night.

This morning we had a detailed race and medical briefing, followed by kit and equipment checks.

My bag weighs approximately 10kg, which is not too bad.

The race starts at 08h00 on Sunday, 10 June 2012, and the first stage is called "Canyons and Camels". We will start at an altitude of 1787m, with many up and down hills waiting for us over the next week.

The daily race distances will be - 42.1km, 39km, 35.6km, 41.6km, 72km, 15km.

My next update will be at the of Stage 1.

# I'm participating in the Gobi March in support of the 2012 SANGONeT "No Pain No Gain" fundraising campaign. To learn more about our campaign, refer to http://www.ngopulse.org/npng.

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What's in the Gobi Bag?


7 June 2012

Greetings from Beijing.

The countdown to the Gobi March in now full swing - just three days to go! I'm flying to Kashgar tomorrow morning, before travelling to Gazi on Saturday with all the other competitors. We will stay in our first desert camp on Saturday evening, before starting the race on Sunday morning.

Competitors in multi-day, self-sufficient, desert footraces face many challenges. These include the weather, sand, injuries, blisters, tiredness, thirst, lack of comfort and privacy, etc.

But there is one challenge which ultimately could make or break your race - the weight of your backpack. Finding the fine balance between the overall weight of your bag, and the food and equipment required to get you through the race, could have a major impact on your ability to finish or not. Ultimately, what every runner packs will be determined by personal preferences and daily nutritional requirements. Runners are only provided with water during the race - 1.5l at every checkpoint, 8-12km apart, and 4.5l at the overnight camps - everything else required needs to be in your bag when the race starts on 10 June 2012.

According to the rules of the race, there is a standard list of compulsory equipment which every runner has to carry from start to finish (e.g. head lamps, sleeping bag, blister kit, etc.). In addition, every runner has to start with at least 14 000 calories of food and nutritional supplements for the entire race. Anything else in your bag is a personal choice of what will make the experience as comfortable as possible for you over seven days in the desert.

The preferred weight of a backpack is between 9 and 10kg for most runners, with some starting with less and others with slightly more weight. My aim is to start the Gobi March with my backpack weighing less than 10kg.



At the moment, I have the following items in my backpack:

15 x Muscle Science Staminade Endure hydration unites
7 x Muscle Science Staminade Recover units
7 x Muscle Science Opti Joint sachets
7 x Muscle Science Xplode units
6 x packets of Muscle Science protein mix
12 x Rehidrat Sport sachets
6 x PeptoPro Sport sachets
7 x sachets of Oats so Easy mixed with Muscle Science Protein (for breakfast)
6 x packets of salt and vinegar chips
6 x packets of biltong
6 x packets of fruit and nuts mix
7 x dinner packs – biltong and smash or freeze dried beef and rice
7 x pairs of Nike socks
2 x Nike running shorts
2 x Nike running shirts
1 x Nike running jacket
2 x water bottles
1 x knife
1 x compass
1 x camera
1 x solar charger
1 x iPod
1 x sunscreen
1 x lip ice
1 x blister kit
2 x head lamps
1 x flashlight for back of backpack
1 x sleeping bag
1 x inflatable mattress
1 x emergency / space blanket
1 x head scarf / buff
1 x running cap
1 x insect net
1 x unit of Vaseline
50ml of Hand hygiene gel
1 x sewing kit
1 x spoon/fork
1 x toothbrush and toothpaste
1 x packet of Voltaren tablets
1 x packet of Ponado pain tablets
10 x Imodium tablets



In addition, I will be using the following gear:

1 x pair of Nike Pegasus 28 trail running shoes
2 x gaiters
2 x Black Diamond tracking poles
1 x Garmin Forerunner 310XT watch
1 x Blackberry phone with Endomondo app for live tracking

Based on my experience in the 2011 Sahara Race, most competitors start the race with more food items (and therefore weight) than required. After every stage everyone re-assesses their requirements for the remaining days and reduce their weight (and especially food) accordingly. This usually results in a mini feast amongst those sharing a tent!

Ultimately, a desert race such as the Gobi March is all about survival and as we say in Afrikaans - vasbyt!

But then again, there is nothing to gain without a little pain!!

To follow the Gobi March and my progress through the Gobi Desert, refer to http://www.ngopulse.org/blogs/no-pain-no-gain-how-follow-david-during-go....

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More about the Gobi March and Gobi Desert


7 June 2012

Greetings from Beijing.

The Gobi March in China forms part of the 4 Deserts series, a unique collection of endurance footraces that take place over six stages, seven days and 250km in the largest and most forbidding deserts on the planet. Competitors in these races are challenged to go beyond the limits of their physical and mental endurance. Racing self-supported in the most inhospitable climates and formidable landscapes, they must carry all their own equipment and food and are only provided with drinking water and a place in a tent each night to rest.

The 4 Deserts series, named again by TIME magazine in 2010 as one of the world's Top 10 endurance competitions, comprises the Atacama Crossing in Chile, the Gobi March in China, the Sahara Race in Egypt and The Last Desert in Antarctica.

I completed the Sahara Race in October 2011 and hope to participate in The Last Desert in Antarctica in November 2012.

The Gobi March 2012 will take place close to Kashgar, starting in a very small village called Gazi with the finish in Upal. Kashgar, meaning “variegated houses” in Chinese, is the Ancient Silk Road’s gateway between China and Central Asia on the westernmost edge of the great Gobi Desert. It is situated west of the Gobi’s Taklamakan portion of the desert at the foot of the Tian Shan mountain range which is 1 290 meters above sea level. Kashgar is located in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, the largest political subdivision of China, which accounts for more than one sixth of China's total territory and one quarter of its boundary length. The main Silk Route presently travels northwest through the Torugart Pass about 200km west of the present city and past the present border with Kyrgyzstan. Kashgar has long benefited from the Silk Route, establishing itself throughout history as both a political and economic centre.

The Gobi Desert is the largest desert region in Asia and the fifth largest in the world. It is also the windiest non-polar desert in the world. The climate in the area varies greatly depending on the specific location due to the topography, which varies from plain, desert and mountain climates. The area selected for the Gobi March has been closely guarded by the Chinese government due to its distance from Beijing. As a result, very few outsiders have been able to freely explore the area.

The weather in Kashgar is fairly comfortable with relatively long summers and short winters. However, Gobi March competitors can expect daily temperatures in the mid 40oC.

The 250km, six-stage course of the 2012 Gobi March takes competitors across a wide variety of terrains, including dirt tracks, sand dunes, dry river beds, hills, villages and more. The average daily distance for the first four stages will be approximately 40km, followed by the Long March on day five (approximately 80km).

The course will take competitors past Shipton’s Arch, locally known as Heaven’s Gate, a natural arch which is taller than the Empire State Building.

A total of 163 competitors from 42 countries will participate in the 2012 race.

To follow the Gobi March and my progress through the Gobi Desert, refer to http://www.ngopulse.org/blogs/no-pain-no-gain-how-follow-david-during-go....

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First Stop...Beijing


6 June 2012

Greetings from Beijing.

I arrived in Beijing late on Tuesday night after a 14 hour flight from Johannesburg. I will be staying here until Friday morning before flying to Kashgar.



I'm getting really excited (and anxious) about the Gobi March now that I'm in China. After months' of training and preparations, it is now only 4 days to the start of the race.

The last few days at home were very hectic in terms of work commitments and final preparations for the race. Packing for a seven-day self-sufficient desert race is a science in its own right. It is all about weight and substance. Whatever goes into your bag must serve a real purpose because you have to carry everything from start to finish - too much weight and you will pay the penalty over seven days, too little substance in terms of food and you will also suffer over seven days. You need to find the right balance.

This is my fourth desert race and I think the packing process is getting slightly easier, although it still requires a lot of planning, discipline and patience!

With a suitcase full "powder" - rehydrate drinks - and a bag of biltong ("the secret weapon of all South African participants"), the process of getting through customs on arrival in Beijing was a bit nerve wrecking. Fortunately, no-one was interested in checking my bags.



This is my first visit to Beijing since 1999 and it didn't take long to realise how much has changed over the past 13 years.

The new airport is a very impressive building. Constructed in support of the 2008 Olympic Games, it is massive in size. The highway from the airport into Beijing is also very impressive, although it was very congested even at 11:00 at night. Beijing itself is a transformed city. Big new buildings everywhere. And like anywhere else in the world, everyone is talking on a cellphone!

I hope to go for a walk in Beijing later today, but this trip is not about sightseeing.

The race is getter closer and my aim is to take it easy for the next few days before taking on the mighty Gobi Desert!

# I'm participating in the Gobi March in support of the 2012 SANGONeT "No Pain No Gain" fundraising campaign. To learn more about our campaign, refer to http://www.ngopulse.org/npng.

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It’s that time of year again…time for a bit of pain!


22 March 2012

It feels like yesterday when I completed the 2011 Sahara Race in Egypt as part of last year’s SANGONeT “No Pain No Gain” campaign. The Sahara Desert was a very tough and demanding environment for a footrace. The combination of heat, sand, blisters and pain made the Sahara Race an extreme physical and mental challenge. But the campaign linked to my successful completion of the race was a very rewarding experience for SANGONeT and our partners, and that is what matters most.

However, it is time for the 2012 “No Pain No Gain” campaign with many new exciting and “painful” features. The 2012 campaign promises to be bigger and more challenging than ever before. And with very good reason.

This is a very special year for everyone associated with SANGONeT as we celebrate a significant milestone - our 25th anniversary. We have much to be very proud of and would like to celebrate our achievements in the appropriate manner throughout the year. But 2012 will not be about SANGONeT and our achievements, only. The services we provide and the activities we implement are a direct response to the challenges facing NGOs in South Africa and beyond. Without the activities of other NGOs, and their need for information, communication and technology services, there will be no role for SANGONeT.

We would therefore like to use our 25th anniversary to celebrate SANGONeT's achievements, as well as recognise the unique contribution made by NGOs to South African society in general. And the “No Pain No Gain” campaign is the perfect platform to create and maintain the necessary interest and momentum in this regard throughout 2012.

Now in its third year, the 2012 campaign will include both sand and snow linked to three desert races - Namib Desert, Gobi Desert and Antarctica - and will require me to run approximately 750km in some of toughest and most demanding conditions on the planet. It will be tough, but can be done!

The objectives of our 2012 "No Pain No Gain" campaign are two-fold.

Firstly, we aim to raise R1 million linked to my successful completion of three desert races. Money raised will be used to expand key SANGONeT services in support of NGOs in South Africa and other parts of Africa. Services such as the NGO Pulse Portal, Prodder NGO Directory, SANGOTeCH Technology Donation Portal and others are already making an important contribution to the NGO sector, but we need more support to reach a larger number of NGOs with a wider range of services.

Secondly, we will use the campaign to raise awareness about the important work of various South African NGOs. Over and above our ongoing work in support of the sector via a number of strategic projects and services, we will also start publishing detailed weekly profiles about NGOs on the NGO Pulse Portal as of 23 March 2012 until the end of November 2012. Daily profiles will be published during each of the three desert races to maximise our awareness-raising efforts in support of NGOs in South Africa.

We hope that the three desert races, our fundraising objective of R1 million and the special focus on the work of other NGOs, against the background of SANGONeT’s 25th anniversary, will result in significant ongoing public interest in the 2012 “No Pain No Gain” campaign until 30 November 2012.

Your support and interest will make my running of the desert races and the overall “No Pain No Gain” campaign a more meaningful and rewarding experience for me and SANGONeT, and everyone else who will benefit from this effort.

Please follow updates about the 2012 “No Pain No Gain” campaign on Facebook and read my regular blogs which will focus on the three desert races, my preparations, the campaign, and the work of SANGONeT and other NGOs in South Africa.

And remember to make a donation and encourage others to do the same!!

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"No Pain No Gain" - Running Through the Sahara Desert with a Mission


13 October 2011

The idea of running the 2011 Sahara Race in Egypt started shortly after I completed the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) in October 2010.

Although my body, and especially my feet, took a pounding running 250km through the Kalahari Desert, I had been bitten by the desert running bug. I wanted to experience more extreme running adventures and was looking for a next big challenge.

Ultimately, my decision to enter the 2011 Sahara Race was informed by the idea to once again use my participation in support of SANGONeT’s fundraising activities for 2011. In 2010 we crafted the “No Pain No Gain” fundraising campaign linked to my participation in the KAEM. We decided to be more ambitious this year and expand the focus and scope of the campaign by inviting five other NGOs to partner with us and share the proceeds.

I had already been reading about the Sahara Race while preparing for the KAEM. This, coupled with my general interest in the many fascinating features of the African continent, including the Sahara Desert, made it an easy decision - I was going to run the 2011 Sahara Race in Egypt!

I started the Sahara Race fitter, wiser and better prepared based on my KAEM experience. But a seven-day race through a desert in extreme conditions does not always follow the planned script. Pain presents itself in many ways…

Thankfully, I survived the challenges of the 2011 Sahara Race and the mighty Sahara Desert.

I crossed the finishing line shortly after 11h00 on 8 October 2011 in 52h38 in sight of the Pyramids of Giza on the outskirts of Cairo.

The Sahara Race was tough, very tough. It was also a very humbling experience. But because everyone suffers together, the spirit and camaraderie between tent mates, other competitors, organisers, medical staff and the support crew, make this a truly unique experience.

My words can’t do justice to this experience, but I have tried to capture it in a manner - three parts in total - which hopefully provide you with some insight into the race, the Sahara Desert and the meaning of it all - both personally, and to the work of SANGONeT and the South African NGO sector in general.

Part 1 covers the build-up to the Sahara Race, including my training and preparations, the “No Pain No Gain” fundraising campaign and the final countdown to the start.

Click here to read more.

Part 2 covers the actual race, with a day-by-day account of my experiences and observations from one sand dune and campsite to the next.

Click here to read more.

Part 3 covers my reflections of the people who made the race a special experience, the challenges of completing an extreme event of this nature and why I would do it all over again.

Click here to read more.

Although the Sahara Race is now something of the past, the “No Pain No Gain” race to R1 million is far from over. We still need more donations, and you have until 30 November 2011 to pledge your support.

Trust me, running through the Sahara Desert gave real meaning to our campaign slogan - “No Pain No Gain”!

Remember, all money donated will be shared between five NGOs at the forefront of development and community work in South Africa - SANGONeT, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), Starfish Greathearts Foundation and SCORE.

Please make a donation and encourage others to do the same.

I dedicate this story to my dad, David Botha Barnard (sr), who passed away on 12 October 2011.

May you rest in peace.


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Sahara Race, Friday, 7 October 2011


Camp 6 ("Petanque") at the end of stage 5 ("Tethis Ocean March") of the 2011 Sahara Race.

What started at 07h00 on Thursday morning ended this morning at 07h00 - 24 hours later - when I crossed the finishing line after running 86.4km.

With only a 2km "celebratory run" left for Saturday morning, I have officially completed the Sahara Race. What an amazing experience. Words can't describe the toughness of the race, the extreme conditions but also the beauty of this unique landscape.

This is not the time to write about yesterday's experience, but in summary we did 9 legs ranging from 8-11 km in length. Once again, the wind caused havoc with all runners, mostly blowing straight in our faces. The heat was more manageable, but the terrain was tough, with many soft sandy patches and big sand dunes. Spending 24 hours on my legs was no fun, and became very tough towards the end. My feet are badly blistered after yesterday and my legs are very tired.

But it is over and I can't wait to cross the "finishing line" at the Great Pyramid of Giza tomorrow morning.

I did most of the long run wearing the yellow armband of SCORE, and after midnight changed to the blue armband of TechSoup Global.

Remember to support the "No Pain No Gain" fundraising campaign - http://www.ngopulse.org/npng.

I would like to wish all the participants in this year's Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon, starting tomorrow, the very best. Go Dirk.

Until next time in Cairo.

Regards

David

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Sahara Race, Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Greetings from camp 5 ("Half Moon") at the end of stage 4 (40.6km)
 
Made it in one piece in 7h45. Just feels amazing to be here. Another tough hot day, with the wind straight from the front for most of the day.
 
Now for the big one. After running almost 4 marathons in the past 4 days, tomorrow we take on 86.4km - a Comrades on tired legs! Tonight I'm getting rid of everything in my bag not needed tomorrow or on Friday.
 
My aim is to run/walk the firsr 50km to the rest camp, take a brake for a few hours, and then start running again in the late afternoon and finish somewhere on Thursday night / Friday morning.
 
My biggest challenge at the moment is my legs - badly sun burned yesterday and very sensitive in today's weather.
 
I have a few more blisters, but will be able to survive tomorrow - I hope.
 
I did today's run with the red armband of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), and tomorrow it is the turn of SCORE (yellow armband).
 
Please support the "No Pain No Gain" fundraising campaign with a donation, and encourage others to do the same!!!
 
Once again thank you for all the messages and comments. Please keep them coming.
 
The next time I give you an update will hopefully be on Friday after the long run.
 
Wish me luck.
 
David

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Sahara Race, Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Greetings from Camp 4 at the end of the third leg (official name Sea of Sand)..

Before commenting on today's run I just want to say happy birthday to my fantastc wife Dalene. I am thinking of you and the boys every step of the way. Miss you lots!

Today's leg covered 42.k km and it took me 8h00 to finish it.

It was a very tough day and from 27km onwards I had no strength and felt very tired. In addition, I thought I lost my heart rate monitor (it was in my back pack all the time), my watch died on the starting line, one of my tracking poles is not working any more, and I have a few very bad blisters.

So, enough said about today. Tonight I have to regroup for tomorrow's 40km before the long run on Thursday.

Thank you to everyone for the messages and comments. Please keep them coming.

After running with CANSA's pink armband today, tomorrow is the turn of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (red armband).

Remember to support the "No Pain No Gain" fundraising campaign - http://www.ngopulse.org/npng.

Until tomorrow

David

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Sahara Race, Monday, 3 October 2011

 

Greetings from Camp 3 ("Sea of Sand") at the end of the second leg of the 2011 Sahara Race.

I completed today's distance of 41.6 km in 7h08, 26th position overall for the day.

There is just one way to describe today's course (official name - "Through the Sand Valley") - brutal - in terms of loose sand and the heat (at least 40 degrees, but to be officially confirmed later today).

The morning started quite comfortable until the first water point (11.2km), but from 08h30 onwards it just bacame to hot to run. I still feel good, even after today's tough outing, but managing the next two days (42.6km and 40.4km) before the 86.4 km log run (stage 5 on Thursday), will be crucial to finish this monster of a race.

At the same time, there is a fine line between going slower and spending more time in this heat.

We finished today's leg with two massive climbs (the first covered approx. 2km and a 200m climb in soft sand, and then after a slight downhill on the other side, we finished with another 1km climb.

I used my tracking poles for the first time today and I'm very happy that they are in my back pack.

General observations:
  • Health - no injuries, early signs of a blister or two, a few toe nails will be gone before the end of the race of soon thereafter;
  • Clothing - my special Nike sleeping shorts / running pants are getting good attention!. They are also very comfortable. For the rest, we are all very dirty and dusty, and with no running water, Saturday's first shower after the race will be an amazing experience;
  • Tent mates - we are 9 people in tent 11 - Geoff (South Africa), Lawrence (South Africa  Hong Kong), Patricia (Germany), Peter (Germany), Todd (Canada / Hong Kong), Kubu (Russia / USA), Aren (Holland / Singapore), Nigel (UK / USA), and me;
  • All runnners - great camaraderie and spirit between all runners.
On a lighter note, Geoff and I have been doing our very best to keep South Africa's name high. With our Springbok flag firmly planted between our sleeping bags in our tent, we are snoring everyone out of the tent at night - thus creating more space and a competitive advantage during the race!

I will not win this race, but given my reputation developed during last year's Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon, when it comes to snoring, everyone else is competing for second place, especially in dusty and sandy conditions such as the Sahara Desert!

Turning to the "No Pain No Gain Campaign", today was the turn of Starfish Greathearts Foundation in terms of profiles published on NGO Pulse, while I did today's run wearing the orange armband of Starfsh.

Tomorrow, the focus shift to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), one of the best known South African NGOs. CANSA has a proud history in raising awareness about the dangers of cancer and supporting cancer survivors.

Please support the "No Pain No Gain Campaign" and the work of CANSA by making a donation at http://www.ngopulse.org/npng.

I will be running tomorrow 's leg of the Sahara Race wearing a pink armband to highlight the unique work of CANSA.

Remember, there is nothing to gain without a bit of pain!

Until tomorrow.

David
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Sahara Race, Sunday, 2 October 2011


The big day finally arrived this morning. At 07h00 we set off on the 37km first leg of the 2011 Sahara Race.
 
I am very pleased to report that I finished today's leg in 5h15 in 28th position overall. But it was tough, very tough. The heat and soft sand were much tougher than I ever expected. And the landscape is just amazing, oftern there is nothing, really nothing other than kms of flat sandy areas, then a few beautiful sand dunes spiced up the landsacape, before returning to flat, soft sandy areas.
 
More amazing, out campsite last night was next to the Northern Lake, a massive stretch of water in the middle of the Sahara Desert. The first leg was therefore called 'Traversing Ancient Waters'. The first 8km this morning followed the countours of the lake until the first waterpoint. After the waterpoint and crossing a small bridge, we then ran in the vacinity of the Southern Lake, at some point up to 34m under sea level. By this time the Sahara started showing its true colours, with temperatures of up to 42 degrees measured in some areas.
 
But I made it to the finish without any major problems - no blisters - just tired legs and sore feet from the hot sand.
 
Given the heat of today, and similar conditions expected over the next few days, the challenge is definitely going to be how best to manage running and walking in these conditions. This is going to get painful and I will have to take it very easy as of tomorrow. Already a number of runners will not continue after today.
 
Tomorrow will be a special day as I will wear the orange armband of the Starfish Greathearts Foundation.
 
So now that it is no longer just a rumour that I will be running through the Sahara, please take out your check book, your credit card or the cash under your bed, go to http://www.ngopulse.org/npng and make a donation in support of this great organisation and the 4 others which form part of the 2011 SANGONeT 'No Pain No Gain' fundrasing campaign.
 
The biggest donation will be rewarded with a bottle of Sahara sand (2011 vintage), personally autographed by myself. It might not be worth much, but be assured that it will travel far and with much effort!
 
Remember, "No Pain No Gain".

 
Until tomorrow from another hot sandy spot in the Sahara Desert.
 
David

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Blog 11, 30 September 2011: What's in the Bag?


Greetings from Cairo.

Participants in multi-day, self-sufficient, extreme desert footraces face many challenges. These include the heat, sand, injuries, blisters, tiredness, thirst, lack of comfort, etc.

But there is one challenge which ultimately could make or break your race - the weight of your backpack. Finding the fine balance between the overall weight of your bag, and the food and equipment required to get you through the race, could have a major impact on your ability to finish or not. If the bag is too heavy, you are going to use more energy to get through every day. If the bag is too light, meaning you have left behind important food and nutritional supplements, you might not be able to sustain the effort required over seven days, especially in temperatures as high as 50°C.

Ultimately, what every runner packs in his/her bag will be determined by personal preferences and daily nutritional requirements. Runners are only provided with water during the race - everything else required needs to be in your bag when the race starts on 2 October 2011.

According to the rules of the race, there is a standard list of compulsory equipment which every runner has to carry from start to finish (e.g. head lamps, sleeping bag, blister kit, etc.) In addition, every runner has to start with 14 000 calories of food and nutritional supplements for the entire race. Anything else in your bag is a personal choice of what will make the experience as comfortable as possible for the runner.

The preferred weight of a backpack is between 9 and 10kg for most runners, with some starting with less and others with slightly more weight. By the time I left South Africa on Wednesday evening, my backpack was weighing 10.4kg. This is at least 1kg too heavy for me in terms of feeling comfortable when running with a backpack.

So, my challenge before Sunday morning is to identify the correct items to be removed from my bag without compromising on my nutritional or equipment requirements for the race.

At the moment, I have the following items in my backpack:
  • 7 x packets of GU Chomps Energy Chews
  • 10 x sachets of GU Roctance Energy Gel
  • 27 x packets of GU Electrolyte Brew
  • 7 x packets of GU Recovery Brew
  • 20 x GU Brew Electrolyte Drink Tablets
  • 6 x Rehidrat Sport sachets
  • 6 x PeptoPro Sport sachets
  • 7 x sachets of Oats so Easy mixed with Protein (for breakfast)
  • 6 x packets of cup-a-snack soup
  • 6 x packets of salt and vinegar chips
  • 6 x packets of biltong
  • 7 x packets of Energade sweats
  • 7 x packets of fruit and nuts mix
  • 7 x packets of protein mix
  • 6 x sachets of coffee / cappuccino
  • 14 x Sporty bites
  • 7 x dinner packs – beef / rice /noodles / smash
  • 8 x pairs of socks
  • 2 x Nike running shorts
  • 2 x Nike running shirts
  • 1 x Nike sweatshirt
  • 2 x water bottles
  • 1 x knife
  • 1 x compass
  • 1 x camera
  • 1 x solar charger
  • 1 x iPod
  • 1 x sunscreen
  • 1 x lip ice
  • 1 x blister kit
  • 2 x head lamps
  • 1 x flashlight for back of backpack
  • 1 x sleeping bag
  • 1 x inflatable mattress
  • 1 x emergency / space blanket
  • 1 x emergency poncho
  • 1 x head scarf / buff
  • 1 x running cap
  • 1 x insect net
  • 1 x unit of Vaseline
  • 50ml of Hand hygiene gel
  • 1 x sewing kit
  • 1 x cooking pot
  • 1 x spoon/fork
  • 1 x toothbrush and toothpaste
  • 1 x packet of Voltaren tablets
  • 1 x packet of Ponado pain tablets
  • 10 x Imodium tablets
In addition, I will be using the following gear:
  • 1 x pair of Nike Pegasus 26 trail running shoes
  • 2 x gaiters
  • 2 x tracking poles
  • 1 x Garmin Forerunner 310XTwatch
As I have shaven off all my hair, at least I don’t have to pack a hairbrush!

So, while you sitting in your air conditioned office next week, sleep in your warm and comfortable bed, drink something nice and cold with lots of ice, take a nice warm shower twice a day and eat a properly prepared meal, please think of me.

I will be doing all the same things from the comfort of my backpack in the middle of the Sahara Desert - the hottest desert in the world - without any running water for seven days, and drinking and eating lots of powered stuff.

But then again, there is nothing to gain without a little pain!!

Remember to follow updates about the Sahara Race and the “No Pain No Gain” campaign on Facebook and Twitter (#SNPNG).

Also have a look at the following list of links associated with the Sahara Race and the “No Pain No Gain” campaign.

I will also be blogging every evening during the race. Just visit this link.

And please make a donation and encourage others to do the same!!

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Blog 10, 28 September 2011: The Significance of My Last Run


Yesterday afternoon I did my final training run in preparation for the 2011 Sahara Race. I only covered an easy 7km at a gentle pace with about 6kg in my back pack.

But it was a significant final outing as a ran down streets and through parks in my neighbourhood where I spent many hours preparing for the Sahara Race.

If felt like yesterday when I made the decision in January 2011 to enter the Sahara Race. Now, eight months later and after running more than 1 800km in preparation for the race, I’m ready to depart for Egypt this evening for what will be the most extreme challenge I have ever undertaken.

I have never questioned my decision to enter the race, but often thought about the challenges that the race will present me and the other participants - the heat, sand, tiredness, lack of comfort, blisters and luke warm drinking water, to mention just a few. And the pain!

I have experienced all these challenges and pain during last year’s Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon, so I have a good sense of what is waiting for me in the Sahara. But this will be a very different experience far away from family, friends and colleagues.

My training and running, linked to my SANGONeT work and travel commitments, have taken me to many corners of South Africa and the rest of the world. From running the Golden Gate Trail Half Marathon in February in San Francisco, to running for a week on the beaches and roads of Tagbilaran in the Philippines in March, to running the Bonn City Marathon in April, to a week of running through the streets and parks of Warsaw and the three-day Forest Run through the mountains and forests of George and Knysna in June, to running 200km on the beaches and gravel roads of Stilbaai as part of my eight-day “training camp” in July/August, to running 70km on beautiful beaches of the West Coast in September. In addition to this, I have run many marathon and half-marathon road races, and completed 84km in the Dawn to Dusk 12-hour race in Pretoria at the end of August 2011. Other than these interesting outings, there were many long and often lonely hours of training runs on hot summer days in the beginning of the year and cold winter days from May - July.

I have done most of my runs over the past three months with a back pack weighing between 5 and 7 kg, and wearing extra layers of clothes to create as much heat as possible in preparation for the Sahara.

Ultimately, regardless of my level of fitness and overall preparations, there are no guarantees that I will complete the race. Given past statistics, at least 30-40% of the 150 participants will withdraw before the end of the Sahara Race for medical or related reasons.

But I have done what is humanly possible in terms of training, on top of work and family commitments, to prepare myself to the best of my ability for the race and to overcome the unique challenges associated with running through the Sahara Desert.

And as the slogan of our fundraising campaign clearly states, “No Pain No Gain”, and with this attitude I will start an experience of a life time at 07h00 on Sunday, 2 October 2011.

Remember to follow updates about the “No Pain No Gain” campaign on Facebook and Twitter (#SNPNG).

And please make a donation and encourage others to do the same!!

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Blog 9, 20 September 2011: Meeting the "Real Greathearts" of our Country

It is now less than two weeks to go to the start of the 2011 Sahara Race in Egypt.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity of visiting the Tsogang Sechaba Community Project in Soweto with Belinda te Riele and Taryn Curtis of the Starfish Greathearts Foundation.

Starfish is one of the four South African NGOs which will benefit from the money raised during the "No Pain No Gain" campaign.

The Starfish Greathearts Foundation is an international development organisation aiming to bring life, hope and opportunity to orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa. One of the long-term legacies of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in our country is the many children who are left orphaned and vulnerable when their parents have gone. Starfish works with partners to bring life, hope and opportunity to these children ensuring that they are not members of a lost generation, but are given the opportunity to grow up to become contributing members of our society.

The Tsogang Sechaba Community Project is one of the initiatives supported by Starfish.

Founded in 1999 by the energetic Ma Tony Gloria Bodibe, Tsogang Sechaba is a community initiative based at Chiawelo extension 3 in Soweto. Its service area includes the whole of Chiawelo, Mapetla, Mapetla extension and the Protea South informal settlement. Its main purpose is to care for orphans and child headed households and children made vulnerable by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Working in close partnership with primary and high schools in its service area, Tsogang Sechaba provides two meals per day to more 1 000 children. It also provides these children with school uniforms, bereavement and HIV/AIDS counselling services, and life skills training, including basic IT skills.

As with all my outreach activities and site visits to projects and initiatives which will benefit from the “No Pain No Gain” campaign, this was another humbling and inspirational experience. In often trying circumstances, Ma Tony Gloria Bodibe and her team at Tsogang Sechaba are making a significant difference in the lives of many children who otherwise would go to hungry to school in the morning and home in the afternoon.

Experiences such as this one, and the dedication of Ma Tony Gloria Bodibe and her team, will provide me with much inspiration while running through the Sahara Desert in October.

But Tsogang Sechaba needs more support, not only to feed and care for an ever increasing number of children, but also to expand and upgrade its infrastructure and facilities.

Through the work of the Starfish Greathearts Foundation, you have the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the efforts of Tsogang Sechaba and other similar initiatives.

Please make a donation and encourage others to do the same!!

Ma Tony Gloria Bodibe and her team are the "real greathearts” of our country.

Remember to follow updates about the “No Pain No Gain” campaign on Facebook and Twitter (#SNPNG).

Click here to view photos of my visit to the Tsogang Sechaba Community Project.

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Blog 8, 12 September 2011: The West Coast...Running in Heaven

Over the past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the "West Coast Heaven Run" on the West Coast.

Organised by my friend Carl Smit, this was not a race, but a three-day 70km run by a group of friends in one of the most beautiful parts of South Africa.

We stayed in the Weskusplek in the small coastal town of Jacobsbaai, close to Saldanha.

This was my final weekend of long training runs in preparation for the 2011 Sahara Race and I could not have asked for a better place to do it.

Day 1 (9 September 2011) consisted of only an easy late afternoon 10km jog through Jacobsbaai and surroundings, and finished with everyone either swimming or spending a few minutes in the icy waters of the West Coast.

Day 2 (10 September 2011) consisted of a 30km run from Jacobsbaai to Saldanha, through the Saldanha military base, and then back to Jacobsbaai on white sandy beaches and gravel roads through patches of beautiful West Coast flowers.

Day 3 (11 September 2011) consisted of another 30km run, starting in Paternoster (north of Saldanha) and all the way back to Jacobsbaai along the coast either on single track trails or beautiful unspoilt beaches. I also had the "pleasure" of running up and down a few big sand dunes in preparation for what lies ahead in the Sahara.

Following the run, we all watched the Springboks playing their opening match of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, narrowing beating Wales 17-16.

We finished the weekend in true West Coast style with a lovely seafood lunch.

As always, the hospitality and friendliness of the people of the West Coast made this a special experience. Also spending time with people who share a deep friendship and the joy of running made this a memorable weekend.

Back in Johannesburg, it is now less than three weeks before the start of the 2011 Sahara Race and my "to do" list is not getting shorter! So it is time to knuckle down in finalising all my outstanding travel and race-related requirements before leaving for Cairo on 28 September 2011.

Remember to follow updates about the “No Pain No Gain” campaign on Facebook and Twitter (#SNPNG).

And please make a donation and encourage others to do the same!!

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Blog 7, 7 September 2011: Reality check...just 25 days to go


Today marks 25 days to the start of the 2011 Sahara Race in Egypt.

It feels like yesterday when I still had five months to prepare for the Sahara Race. Then came 1 July which represented 100 days to the last day of the race. And now we are down to 25 days.

My training programme is slowly coming to an end. On one level I’m very excited about this milestone given the many hours I spent preparing for the race. On another level, it is also a sign that the race is very close and time to get nervous!

After doing more than 200 km during my week-long “training camp” in Still Bay in early August, followed by the 12 hour Dawn-to-Dusk race on 27 August in Pretoria, with a number of rest days in between, my aim is to do a final period of intensive training over the next 10 days.

Starting this coming weekend, I will be running 70 km on the beaches and gravel roads of the West Coast near Jacobsbaai during the unofficial “West Coast Heaven Run”, followed by a further 70 km next week which will include a 15 km run on 15 September through the Modderfontein Conservation Area with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), the CSIR 21 km race on 17 September 2011 in Pretoria, and finally, the 21 km race which forms part of the City-to-City Ultra Marathon on 18 September 2011 in Johannesburg.

Adding all my training runs together, this will give me approximately 1 800 km since March 2011 and hopefully enough to finish the Sahara Race in one piece.

So far I have been very fortunate in not picking up any injuries, although the dry and hot August Highveld winds have caused havoc with my sinuses.

During the final two weeks leading up to the race I will do very little training and rather concentrate on the many other issues that need attention before departing for Egypt on 28 September 2011.

Turning to the “No Pain No Gain” fundraising campaign, the next few weeks will mark a period on intensive media, communication and outreach activities by SANGONeT and the other participating NGOs.

We want to raise R1 million and need all your help and support.

Please make a donation and encourage others to do the same!!

Remember to follow updates about the “No Pain No Gain” campaign on Facebook and Twitter (#SNPNG).

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Blog 4, 25 July 2011: Walk the Talk...and some running


The annual Discovery 702 Walk the Talk was held through the streets of Johannesburg on Sunday, 24 July 2011.

The event was first held in 2000 when it attracted 12 000 walkers. The 2011 event attracted more than 50 000 walkers, including Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau, current Miss South Africa Bokang Montjane, celebrities, politicians, dogs and former Olympian and retired swimmer Mark Spitz.

It is biggest mass sporting event in Africa and one of the biggest in the world.

Walkers had the option of participating in the 30km, 15km, 8km or 5km events.

The SANGONeT team participated in the 15km walk, with everyone finishing in approximately 3 hours. Some dipped under 3 hours, while others needed a bit more time to make it to the finishing line.

Kitted in our orange and black “No Pain No Gain” shirts, we participated in the event not only to have fun and “improve” the fitness levels of SANGONeT staff, but also to raise awareness about the “No Pain No Gain” campaign. Staff members talked to fellow walkers about the campaign and answered questions about how the public could assist us with our fundraising efforts.

On a beautiful sunny Highveld winter’s day in Johannesburg, it was a great event with much fun had by all.

To view our "Walk the Talk" photo album, click here.

The aims of the “No Pain No Gain” campaign are very complementary to the aims of the Discovery 702 Walk the Talk. Other than promoting a healthy lifestyle, the annual walk changes the lives of many others through numerous fundraising initiatives. Since 2006, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation has been the official charity of the event. Proceeds from the walk are used to fund various Laureus projects across South Africa.

In terms of my training, fortunately or unfortunately, walking 15km will not get me through the Sahara Desert in October 2011. So while most walkers were still enjoying something cold after the event, it was time for another 8km run home to round off a good week of training.

Remember to follow updates about the “No Pain No Gain” campaign on Facebook, Twitter and the “No Pain No Gain” website, and don’t forget to make a donation.

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Blog 3, 18 July 2011: Giving back…No Pain, Just Gain

Today is Mandela Day, an annual international day adopted by the United Nations in celebration of Nelson Mandela's life and legacy.  Mandela Day is a call to action for people to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place, one small step at a time.

The Mandela Day campaign message is simple - “Mr Mandela gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity. All we are asking is that everyone gives 67 minutes of their time, whether it’s supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community.”

In celebration of Madiba’s 93rd birthday, and as part of our outreach activities in support of the 2011 SANGONeT “No Pain No Gain” fundraising campaign, all SANGONeT staff members travelled to Soweto this morning to support the Sunshine Association’s Early Intervention Centre.

The Sunshine Association is a nonprofit organisation committed to the development and inclusion of children with disabilities and delays - intellectual, developmental, physical. Its Early Intervention Projects in Craighall, Eldorado Park, Germiston and Soweto cater for children aged 18 months to 7 years.

Kitted in our new “No Pain No Gain” shirts, SANGONeT staff members cleaned the kitchen, created a vegetable garden - tomatoes, cabbages and carrots, and painted the walls and ceiling of a big classroom which in future will serve as a toy library.

Click here to see photos of SANGONeT staff members in the garden, cleaning windows, painting walls, etc.

Unfortunately, we were not able to interact with the kids as today is a cleaning day at the centre and they only return tomorrow morning.

However, as this was a meaningful exercise for all staff members, we will continue to visit the centre in future and support it to the best of our ability.

Experiences such as this one, and the sacrifices made by Nelson Mandela, will provide me with much inspiration while running through the Sahara Desert in October.

Happy birthday Madiba!

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Blog 2, 13 July 2011: Frustrating times…but let’s keep the focus

Today we are down to 80 days before the start of the 2011 Sahara Race.

The past few days have been extremely frustrating from a training perspective. I have been down with a bad flu bug and as a result, no running, just resting. It is interesting how a few days of no training quickly leads to a negative state of mind - will I be able to make up the lost time, can’t afford not to be on the road doing long training runs, etc.

At least the few days of no running have allowed me to concentrate on some related issues which will be keen to my successful completion of the Sahara Race and the overall implementation of the 2011 SANGONeT “No Pain No Gain” Campaign.

Next week will be the first meeting of all the NGO partners involved in the campaign - Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), Starfish Greathearts Foundation and SCORE. The objectives of the meeting will be to clarify our individual and collective responsibilities, and to strategise how best to ensure the success of the campaign from a fundraising and awareness-raising perspective.

One of the outcomes of the meeting will definitely be a detailed plan for keeping the public and our various stakeholders informed about the campaign and how best to follow and support it.

Yesterday, Good Morning Africa (Africa Magic Channel 114 on Dstv) broadcasted an interview with me, which was recorded a few weeks back, about SANGONeT's work in South Africa and other parts of Africa, as well as the 2011 "No Pain No Gain" campaign. Hopefully this media exposure will help us in generating significant interest in the camapign.

I have also used the past few days to reflect on the experiences of other runners which participate in desert races and various other extreme ultra-distance marathons. Although there is no “one size fits all” approach to these types of events from a training, preparation and equipment perspective, there is much to learn from their experiences to inform my own planning and preparations for the Sahara Race.

I have just completed reading “Why we Run - A Story of Obsession” by Robin Harvie. Other than covering the history of long distance running and “why we do it”, the book is ultimately about Harvie’s attempt to complete the Spartathlon in Greece - the world's toughest footrace with runners having to complete 246km in less than 36 hours. Since its conception in 1984, no more than 700 people have completed the Spartathlon.

And although Harvie failed in his attempt to conquer the Spartathlon - very few people succeed on their first attempt - his story is a very real and moving reflection of the dedication, sacrifices and long lonely hours on the road required in preparation for extreme sports events.

In the book, Harvie refers to Scott Jurek, one of the world’s best ultra-distance runners and winner of the Spartathlon in three consecutive years from 2006. Still dealing with the meaning and significance of running long distances, Harvie states the following:

“What Jurek can teach us is that the transformation we undergo in becoming ultra-distance runners involves a merging of consciousness and landscape, whilst offering up the possibility of going beyond the limits of our knowledge. The transformation is in the act of running itself, which turns running from a mode of travel - in its most limited form, of getting across the finishing line - to a mode of being.”

Much food for thought…I will definitely think about Harvie’s book and his experiences before, during and after the Spartathlon while running through the Sahara Desert in October.

Remember to follow updates about the “No Pain, No Gain” campaign on Facebook and Twitter (#SNPNG), and read my regular blogs which focus on the race, my preparation, the campaign, and the work of SANGONeT and the other organisations.

And don’t forget to make a donation and encourage others to do the same!!

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Blog 1, 1 July 2011: It will be sandy, hot and painful…but very rewarding

Exactly 100 days from today, I hope to cross the finishing line of the 250 km, seven-day Sahara Race...in sight of the Great Pyramids of Giza outside Cairo in Egypt.

If you are wondering why I would put myself through this - it is because I hope to raise significant amounts of money in support of SANGONeT and five other South African NGOs.

As if the heat, sand, blisters of running 250 km last year through the Kalahari Desert was not enough, I have decided to do it all over again...this time through the Sahara.

As part of SANGONeT’s 2011 “No Pain, No Gain” fundraising campaign, I will be running the Sahara Race from 2-8 October 2011 through the Sahara Desert in Egypt.

My participation and ultimate completion of the race gives real meaning to our campaign slogan - “No Pain, No Gain”.

Preparing for, and successfully completing the race, is an important priority and key to the interest which we hope to generate in support of the “No Pain, No Gain” campaign.

Ultimately, however, it is the aims and objectives of the campaign which we hope will motivate our supporters to make a donation in support of the work we do.

In addition, my participation in the Sahara Race is not only to raise money for SANGONeT, but also to raise awareness and support for other NGOs at the forefront of development and community work in South Africa.

With this in mind, we will give five NGOs the opportunity to link their own fundraising and awareness-raising efforts to my participation in the race. Organisations which have already confirmed their participation include the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), Starfish Greathearts Foundation and SCORE.

Their participation in the campaign, and the support which we hope to generate over the next few months, will make my running of the race and the overall “No Pain, No Gain” campaign a more meaningful and rewarding experience for myself and everyone who supports it.

Please follow updates about the “No Pain, No Gain” campaign on Facebook and read my regular blogs which will focus on the race, my preparation, the campaign, and the work of SANGONeT and the other five organisations.

And don’t forget to make a donation and encourage others to do the same!!

 

Comments

When ѕomeone writеs an piесe of writing hе/she rеtaіnѕ the idеa οf a uѕеr in his/her mind thаt how a useг сan be awaгe оf it. Ѕо thаt's why this article is great. Thanks!
You have no idee how relieved i was when you passed customs safely.
Great work David! We wish you all the best ...sending positive energy to get you to the finishing line.