Friday, 12 April 2013

The Verdict – Two Oceans Back to Back Challenge

Before the 30th of March, many thoughts were going through my head. Having taken the challenge to run the Two Oceans Marathon twice seemed incomprehensible for most in my close circle of friends, family and colleagues. For most, this somewhat reserved unassuming individual was taking a gamble beyond measure. If truth be told, there were instances I thought they could be right. The longest distance I have ever run in my meager two and a half years of long distance running was my single Comrades marathon which I practically wobbled to a finish on a bad knee.

Those who had witnessed the effects of those 10 long hours were right to think that taking on 112km was being overambitious. However, the reason and motivation for taking on the challenge compelled me to stick to mission at hand. More than 3 million orphans in South Africa whose muffled voices cry out for help, day in day out. More than 3 million dreams waiting to be born. More than 3 million destinies waiting to be fulfilled and a simple gesture such as 112km could very well ensure at least one is carried to full term. All fear that I would fail or hurt myself, was eroded by a vivid picture of millions of dreams being dashed as many broken beings infiltrated society. Putting my body on the line for a day would be incomparable to the generations of broken individual the country will see if nothing is done here and now. While my body would heal after a few days of rest, some Arnica anti-inflamatories and at the worst, a visit to a medical practitioner, nothing could take away the pain of an orphan growing up feeling like an unwanted child.

The Newkidz on the Block philosophy is simple, “There is no such thing as an unwanted child, just an unfound family.” With this in mind, the 112km journey was something of a pilgrimage of sorts for these millions of children.

When the 30th finally came, I had developed a certain kind of numbness on the inside, a peace that surpasses all understanding. Neither was I afraid nor was I doing somersaults. Lining up at the start of the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon this time around, had much more significance than the previous time I had run the race. This was not my race, it went far beyond me in every sense. Alone, I had no strength nor will to start, let alone complete it but with an invisible legion of lives in pursuit of hope, I trotted across the start line. Being seeded E meant I had to start at the back of the field and the last minute bathroom visit  meant I had to start right at the back. Unfazed by neither this nor the gale force winds that greeted the runners as we ran along the coastline, the first 56km was completed.

It only hit me at the start of the second lap that this was a lone journey. By mid-day, the roads had been cleared and any evidence that there had been a race in progress had been carefully taken away. Despite the tired body, the journey continued, slowing down as the kilometers went by. Fighting against the wind reminded me of the many challenges the orphans in our country faced while at the same time stirring up the determination to defy the odds. Through the terrain this lone traveler progressed, with shouts of encouragement coming from the support vehicle from time to time. When the going permitted, a team member from Newkidz on the Block would run alongside, making light of the journey.

The most difficult mile was the last, when I had to dig in deep. The body was long spent and all that carried me was a Lover who kept whispering “ it is for 3 million dreams…” Looking up literally at times, He gently tugged at the heartstrings, playing a tune that numbed the pain. Almost dragging my feet, the last kilometer was completed with the team from Newkidz right by my side all the way.
Never have I appreciated a bath, a salty snack and above all the love of the Creator like on this day. The love that frees us and spurs us on to do what many perceive to be impossible. The love that makes one do crazy things without standing to benefit anything from it. The love that knows no limits nor boundaries. The kind of love that Newkidz and many other organizations selflessly  display daily.
After close to 14 hours of running and walking, I can safely say Two Oceans Back to Back was a Mission Possible!

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