Running an ultra is no doddle. Anything over 42km is gruelling on the body, and the further you push, the tougher it gets. Add to that the conditions you’re running in and the terrain you’re running on, and things can get rather interesting…
Imagine running 50km a day for 20 consecutive days, in heat and humidity that saps every smidgeon of bounce from your legs, across all terrain from tar to dirt road to sodden rice paddy. And then, on the 20th day, adding the toughest stretch of all, a formal 100km trail ultra marathon, just for good measure.
And now, imagine if every slogging step of that journey could be worth so much more than merely the feeling of achieving the completion of the distance. Imagine if for every ultra you run, you can give a child a gift that will change his or her life forever. Imagine that.
Forget imagination – that’s what David Grier and Andy Stuart are making reality with their Thailand Power of 10 challenge: they’re clocking up 1 100km up Thailand in 20 extremely hot and sweaty days, culminating in the Thailand Ultra 100km race. And each of those 20 days will enable a child to smile for the first time.
|The thin black line is their route from Bangkok up to Ban Tham village near the Burmese border|
It’s simple: David and Andy are running their miles to earn smiles for at least 20 kids in need of corrective cleft palate surgery. Those smiles will be first-time smiles, and lifetime smiles. Their run will have the power to change the lives of those kids forever. All this through the Cipla Miles for Smiles Foundation.
Operation Smile South Africa provides free surgeries to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities for children in southern Africa. Each surgery costs, of course, and through the work of dedicated, philanthropist medical specialists and the Cipla Foundation, the fee is reduced to just R5 500 – free to the patient but the funds still need to be paid. That’s where the fundraising efforts of Miles for Smiles come in.
Why the Power of 10?
Ten is symbolic on many counts: this is the 10th of David’s fundraising endurance challenges; it’s been 10 years since the first of those 10 was achieved (the first full length completion of the Great Wall of China, 4 200km ), and close on R10 million is the amount that has been raised through the 10 feats.
As David says “The power of 10 is the beginning of a celebration of the past 10 year, a journey of a life-fulfilling adventure of passion, zest for life and the internal yearning to make a difference in some way.”
And the 10 years has seen nearly 2 000 children receive corrective surgery funded by David’s runs for the Cipla Miles for Smiles Foundation for Operation Smile South Africa.
Over the past nine years David has clocked up around 26 000km in endurance feats for charity:
- The Great Wall Challenge – in 2006, he and Braam Malherbe were the first people in recorded history to run the full length of the Great Wall of China (4 200km in 98 days)
- SA Coastal Challenge – in 2008 he and Braam ran the entire coastline of South Africa, from Namibia to Mozambique (3 300km in 80 days)
- Madagascar Challenge – in 2010 he paddled solo from Africa to Madagascar (500km in 11 days) and then ran across Madagascar (2 000km in 66 days)
- India Challenge – in 2011 David and Andy ran across India, north to south (4 008km in 93 days)
- UK Challenge – in 2012 David and Andy ran the length of the UK from John O’Groats to Lands End
- Cuba Challenge – in 2014 David and Andy achieved another first, running from Guantanamo Bay near San Antanio in the south east to Punte Messi in the north-west of Cuba (1 800km in 28 days)
- And now it’s the Thailand Challenge: 1 100km, from Bangkok to Ban Tham village in the north of the country near the Burmese border. Once there, they’ll run the 100km Thailand Ultra Marathon, rated by Red Bull as the fifth toughest ultra in Asia.
I was privileged to be invited by the two crazies to run that final 100km race with them. Sadly, I had other commitments and had to turn them down L
So, yesterday they sent me this quick video clip to say hi:
Today the guys have less than 350km to go before they reach the start line of their final 100km. It’s been hellishly hard, not so much for the daily distance they’re pushing, but for the climate they’re running in – Thailand’s humidity is soporific, and trying to exercise in those conditions feels impossible.
There are two ways you can help David and Andy reach their target of R110,000 towards #MilesForSmiles for Operation Smile South Africa
- sms SMILES to 39051 and you will be contributing R25
- click on the Cipla Foundation donation page and donate an amount of your choice: CLICK HERE TO DONATE
Just a quick and simple click will help David and Andy raise funds to help as many kids with cleft lip or palate as possible receive corrective surgery, and let them be able to smile!
Follow David Grier's blog during the Thailand Power of 10 on this link: David Grier's blog
* all photos credited to Peter Kirk Media