The Ultra Africa Race starts tomorrow morning, 14 November 2013, at 08h00 local time in front of our hotel here in Banfora in the south west of Burkina Faso. After two days in Ouagadougou, all the participants travelled yesterday by bus to Banfora. We arrived here last night after a long and bumpy trip.
Today is all about final preparations for the race – participants had their equipment, nutrition and health checked in the morning, and used the rest of the day to pack (and re-pack) their backpacks. This evening we will have a race briefing before the final countdown to the start of the race.
The Ultra Africa Race is a 213 km self-supported foot race over five stages from 14-18 November 2013. The organisers only provide participants with a limited quantity of water every day and a tent to sleep in at night – anything else you need for the duration of the race you carry in your backpack!
Starting in Banfora, the race will end in Kawara. The race route will take us through sugar cane plantations, down dirt roads, past the Domes of Fabédougou, through the Senufo lands with many authentic villages and up Mount Ténakourou (747 meters), the highest point of Burkina Faso.
The daily stages and distances which we will cover are as follow:
14 November 2013, Stage 1, Banfora – Toumousséni, 38 km
15 November 2013, Stage 2, Toumousséni – Douna, 49 km
16 November 2013, Stage 3, Douna, Kagnigara, 42,5 km
17 November 2013, Stage 4, Kagnigara – Niansogoni, 42,5 km
18 November 2013, Stage 5, Niansogoni – Kawara, 33 km
A total of 16 participants – from France, Germany, Luxemburg, Argentina, Italy, Spain, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and South Africa (me and Krisnet van der Westhuizen) – will start the race. This is a small field for a race of this nature, but adds to the friendship and camaraderie amongst participants.
I am quietly confident about my prospects for the race. I have trained hard with the “bloody” backpack – my friend and foe over the next few days – and trust that everything will be fine. I have struggled with a sore knee in recent weeks, but it feels ok for the challenge that lies ahead.
Ultimately, I’m not competing to win, but to finish this challenge (in one piece!) and to use my participation in the race to raise awareness about the work of the ONE Campaign in Africa.
ONE is a grassroots campaign and advocacy organization 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 use my next blog – the last one before the start of the race – to highlight the work of ONE and how my run will hopefully make a small but meaningful contribution to its work in Africa.
You can follow my progress during the race on the organiser’s Facebook page.
Also 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.
- Ultra Africa Race – What’s in the bag? (desert2desert4socialcauses.wordpress.com)
- Desert 2 Desert – Running for Social Causes and Campaigns (desert2desert4socialcauses.wordpress.com)
- My Desert Runs – ONE by ONE (desert2desert4socialcauses.wordpress.com)