Two Cape Town doctors will be running a staggering 3 000 km over the next three months along the Mekong River in Southeast Asia to raise funds for the Western Cape child protection organisation Home from Home.
Sports scientist Dr David Crombie and veterinary surgeon Dr Mark Barron begin their epic journey on 3 November 2012 and plan to complete the challenge at Phuroc Cung located on the South China Sea by 21 January 2013.
Patron of the challenge Professor Tim Noakes, commended Crombie and Barron for their courage and determination in tackling this unique challenge for charity. “This is an incredible task and there will be moments when you will struggle, but you will get through it when you think of the children you will be helping,” Noakes said.
Noakes commended Crombie for his bravery also because he was a recent cancer survivor who had a bone marrow transplant less than a year ago. “It is a miracle that you are here today,” Noakes said to Crombie.
A marathon a day
Crombie, who has been running the Endurance Challenge Charity Trust (ECCT) since 2007 to raise funds for vulnerable children in South Africa, said the Mekong run would be a 3 000km challenge undertaken over a period of approximately three months, from November 2012 to January 2013. The challenge is equivalent to about 72 consecutive full marathons or 143 half marathons. In the weeks prior to their departure the two men were training more than five hours a day each, covering up to 250km of trail and road runs.
Starting in the city of Luang Probang in Laos, located at the confluence of the Nam Khan river and Mekong Riverat 700m above sea level, their first real challenge will be to prevent altitude sickness through a slow and thorough acclimatisation process. Tackling monsoon weather and landslides as well as unbearable humidity and heat, the two athletes will descend down through to the capital city of Laos, Vientiane, where they would have to stay on the beaten track to avoid the perilous landscape littered with thousands of unexploded landmines from the Vietnam War.
Progressing into Cambodia they would alsohave to travel only in demined areas, and avoid coming into contact with renegade Thai soldiers, who have been known to kidnap tourists and murder Chinese sailors. “Here Mark and I will no doubt be doing our best times,” Crombie quipped. The journey will end in South Vietnam at the Mekong Delta – a complicated maze of waterways.
Barron said he decided to join Crombie in the challenge because he was concerned for Crombie’s safety doing it alone, identified this as a once in a lifetime experience, and was inspired to raise “mega funds for the wonderful organisation Home from Home”.
Crombie appealed to sponsors to get involved to make this trip a reality. The runners were in particular need of a sponsor for running shoes designed to handle thick snow and -20 degrees Celsius conditions, protein supplements as nutrition on certain parts of the route was a challenge, and a few other supplies. They also managed to secure the commitment of a photographer to accompany them on this journey of a lifetime.
While they would pay their own way, they were looking for donations to Home from Home.
Home from Home is an organisation which sets up and runs small, community based, family foster homes. Each home is a “normal house in a normal street” with no more than six children cared for by a foster mother, or foster parents. The children and foster parents are supported and supervised by Home from Home, its fulltime social workers and local community groups. Home from Home is currently running 26 homes in 12 communities in the Western Cape, caring for around 170 children, and many more homes are in the planning stages.
Shaper said: “Home from Home fully supports the efforts of David Crombie and Mark Barron in their hugely ambitious Mekong River Challenge. Whilst testing their physical endurance to its limits, encountering often perilous conditions and pushing themselves mentally, David and Mark can rest assured that their challenge will be making a difference to the lives of vulnerable, abused and orphaned children.”
The runners would remain in contact with the outside world via their blog www.mekongriverrun.com, a Facebook page and satellite phone – if they can get sponsors for a phone and tough laptop.
For more information about Home from Home please see www.homefromhome.org.za.
(Press release, November 2012)