My #NGOs4Africa Campaign – Week Seven Reflections

This blog covers the period from 20-25 August 2018.

It is only two days to go before the start of the 2018 Fire and Ice Ultra in Iceland.

I arrived this morning at the Fire and Ice Ultra headquarters in Akureyri, in the north of Iceland. It’s been an interesting journey to get here, to say the least, with many unexpected curveballs along the way.

Firstly. I almost didn’t make it on to my South African Airways (SAA) flight from Johannesburg to London on Thursday night because SAA and Icelandair don’t have a baggage handling arrangement at Heathrow Airport. As a result, they could not guarantee that my bag with all my kit, equipment and food would make it to Iceland. This was fortunately resolved after almost two hours of stress and frustration at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, and I arrived safely in London yesterday morning, with my bag “checked through to Iceland”. Surprise, surprise, after a six-hour layover in London, my flight to Reykjavik was then delayed by another three hours due to engine problems, and when I finally arrived in Iceland – wait for it – my bag was left behind in London!

With no gear and food for a self-sufficient desert race, there is no race! But miracles do happen, and at the 2h30 this morning someone knocked on the door of my guest house in Reykjavik with a personal delivery – my blue, plastic-wrapped bag! What a relief, but I feel as if I have already run a desert race, at least mentally, before the real race has even started!

The weather in Reykjavik was very pleasant this morning. Although less than 10°C, the sun was shining, with no clouds or wind. After a 40-minute flight further north, it is definitely colder and fresher outside and a good indication of what lies ahead over the next week. It will be very cold for most of the race, but hopefully not too uncomfortable.

Although I had a bit of flue in the past few days, I’m ready for the 250km challenge that lies ahead over the coming week in the Icelandic Highlands.

Updates about my progress during the race might not be as regular as expected, but the best place to follow the race, and hopefully updates about different runners, will be the Fire and Ice Facebook page.

With all my attention now shifting to the Fire and Ice Ultra, I have come to the end of my seven-week #NGOs4Africa campaign. It’s been a very stimulating and inspiring experience. As previously stated, I have developed a new appreciation for the work done not only by the organisations which I profiled, but also for the thousands of organisations which collectively represent the NGO sector in Africa.

During the week under review I published another six NGO profiles – CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation, loveLife, World Wildlife Fund South Africa, Soul City Institute, ActionAid South Africa and SECTION27, as well as six more NGO analysis by Ezra Mbogori, Executive Director of MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation, Mukelani Dimba, Civil Society Co-Chair of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), Shelagh Gastrow, Founder and Director of GastrowBloch Philanthropies, Dr Rama Naidu, Executive Director of the Democracy Development Program, Dr Shuaib Manjra, Chairperson of Ndifuna Ukwazi, and Ntsiki Mpulo, Head of Communications at SECTION27, respectively, and two more Sport 4 Good profiles which focused on “Torsten Koehler and Love Your Nuts – Awareness saves lives!” and “The Cows – Love living life and making a difference”.

In total, I published 50 NGO profiles, 17 NGO analysis, 7 Sport 4 Good profiles, and my weekly blog posts which reflected on the activities of the previous week, during the period from 9 July – 25 August 2018.

Finally, a blast from the past. The images below were taken during my ninth and most recent desert race, the 250km Big Red Run in June 2017 in the Simpson Desert in Australia. It was one of my best desert running experiences – tough and challenging race, beautiful desert setting, and a great group of organisers and runners!

By completing a desert race in Australia I also ticked off another continent – number six – in my quest to finish one of these races on all seven continents.

It is now a year later, and time to take on the seventh and final leg – the Fire and Ice Ultra in Iceland…

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