This is my first of many blog posts which will capture stories and information about my runs through the deserts of the world in support of social causes and campaigns trying to make the world a better place.
I will publish a daily blog over the next few days as part of the countdown to my next desert adventure – the five day / 213km Ultra Africa Race – which starts on 14 November 2013 in Burkina Faso. I am dedicating my run to the work of the ONE Campaign in Africa. ONE is a grassroots campaign and advocacy organisation backed by more than 3 million people who are committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Co-founded by Bono and other campaigners, ONE is nonpartisan and works closely with African policy-makers and activists.
I will elaborate on the work of ONE, and how my participation in the Ultra Africa Race will hopefully make a small but meaningful contribution to its work in Africa, in my next blogs.
Since my first desert run in 2010 – the seven day, 250km Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) through the Kalahari Desert in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, I have developed a crazy love affair with the world’s toughest and most remote deserts, and the unique challenges – fitness, endurance, mental toughness, etc. – which multi-stage foot races present both elite athletes and ordinary runners, like myself, when running in extreme conditions.
Most multi-stage desert races are done on a self-sufficient basis – the organisers only provide participants with water and overnight tents – everything else that you might need for the duration of the races (e.g. food, equipment, etc.) you have to carry in your backpack which usually weights between 8 and 10kg at the start. Running a marathon per day for 5-7 days in desert conditions – with a “monkey on your back” – is a challenge for even the toughest and most experienced athletes. Furthermore, after a week in the desert, you develop a new appreciation for life’s “easy-to-take-for-granted luxuries” – running water, a bed, food, etc.
Having worked with development and non-profit issues for more than 20 years, it is not too difficult to find the correlation between the challenges associated with making the world a better place and the challenges associated with completing a multi-stage desert foot race. As a result, I participated in all my desert races from 2010 to June 2013 under the banner of the SANGONeT “No Pain No Gain” fundraising and awareness-raising campaign, which aimed to raise money and support for the important work of SANGONeT and many other non-profit organisations in South Africa.
I left SANGONeT at the end of June 2013 to take on a new challenge as Vice-President: Africa for TechSoup Global, an organisation dedicated to supporting non-profit organisations globally in accessing and utilizing technology to improve the impact of their work. Going forward, I will continue to use my participation in desert races to support a wide range of social causes and campaigns dedicated to development issues in Africa.
So, please join me on my future journey from desert two desert around the world.
My next blog will focus on the desert races which I have completed since 2010, as well as more information about the upcoming Ultra Africa Race in Burkina Faso.
Follow updates about my desert races on my new Facebook page – Desert 2 Desert – Running for Social Causes and Campaigns – as well as on Twitter at @david_barnard, and #DavidDesertRun4ONE and #desert2desert.
- Finalists for ONE Africa $100 000 USD Prize announced (sierraexpressmedia.com)