“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Lao Tzu

Every day we face challenges, whether trying to build a business, studying to gain a qualification, raising a family, writing a novel, climbing a mountain or running a marathon, which if looked at in their entirety are extremely daunting, but when broken down into smaller actions begin to seem more manageable.

All require similar attributes to overcome, dogged determination, single mindedness, a focus on the goal, a willingness to adapt, persevere and overcome obstacles and sustain our efforts through adverse conditions.

In that sense, running a marathon is analogous to daily life, constantly putting one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again, despite the pain, fatigue and possibly boredom, until finally the milestones pass, one by one, and the end comes into view. Perhaps the main difference running a marathon is that it’s something people elect to do, for personal fitness, for the sheer challenge of it, or as in this case, to raise money for charity.

On Sunday, 2nd October 2022, 10 intrepid adventurers from South African Chambers spread across 5 different continents set out on a daunting journey. Their challenge was the same, to run the virtual London Marathon in aid of Breadline Africa as part of the Chamber’s Six Continents Challenge.

All participants were raising money for Breadline Africa, and the fundraiser is still open for anyone who wants to help these 10 intrepid athletes to reach their financial target, having completed the physical and mental challenge of finishing the race.

Abigail and Reginal Vincent ran in Canada, starting off at 5pm Canadian time (the moment the Virtual Marathon began in the UK) and finishing in the dark of night. 

Representing the African continent, Annette Christie started out at 5.30am to try to avoid the heatwave affecting Johannesburg.  Due to a knee injury, she was walking the marathon.

“As I am walking, I want to run but know I can’t. At 21km I am still feeling good, I’m smiling, I have energy and pass the time listening to the birds chirping and by greeting people along the way. Gradually, as the day wears on, it gets hotter and hotter.  By 30km the heat is intense and I’m feeling drained, my feet are sore and I have a continual thirst.  I can’t find any shade away from the blazing sun.  Now even the birds are quiet and there are few people out on the trails, filling me with a sense of loneliness. The hills are harder to climb, but I say to myself, “Only 12km to go”. 

As I walk down the road, I see there is an event taking place in the nature reserve, filling a large pool with water.  It looks like an oasis and all I can think of doing is jumping into the cold water, clothes and all. My husband and daughter are now on hand and they have drinks with plenty of ice, I just need to cool down.  My daughter walks with me for 5km to take my mind off the heat.  I keep putting one foot in front of the other, knowing what we are doing is for a good cause.  The cold water they brought me is soon warm.  The last 7km is a mind game, “Just keep going, just keep going”, I tell myself.

At last, with 42.2km now behind me, the marathon is completed and everything I see looks beautiful as I sit in the shade under a Lapa, drinking an ice-cold drink.

1,800 miles away, across the Mozambique channel, out into the Indian Ocean, Kim Wightman and Jonathan Melenas began their journey in Mauritius.

A view of the route taken by Kim and Jonathan in Mauritius

Erica Terblanche is an author and extreme athlete with many amazing achievements to her name who was featured in a recent Chamber webinar talking about her latest book, “Run for the Love of Life”.

Not fully recovered from her latest event near the Grand Canyon in Utah, where she raced 270km in 7 days, Erica ran the Virtual London Marathon in Greece, on a quiet, hot and beautiful, farm road.

With 16km to go, her legs felt like concrete so she decided to pause for a Greek coffee along the way, but still managed to finish with a solid time.

Bernadette Botha ran in the UK:

“Everybody has different experiences during a marathon, dealing with the discomfort in different ways with only one goal in mind – to finish.  They overcome the heat, cold, rain, sore feet, sore legs, knees, cramps, little niggles along the way, ‘hitting the wall’ but wouldn’t give it up for the world.

“There is something about long distance running that gives you that ‘high’ and rush of endorphins. Even more so when you are running for a cause like Breadline Africa. It was a good day out and time well spent for a good cause.”

SACC Chairman, Sharon Constançon was taking a break in Spain as 2nd October rolled around.

“When we set the challenge within the Chamber for the 6 continents, I was expecting to be walking in the UK, in the hilly Chilterns, which would have been a breeze in comparison to the hills of the South Coast of Spain.  Having come from Cape Town, I’d liken the hills to have been as long, and some steeper than Sir Lowry’s Pass – and more than 15 of those.  That was a tough trade of location. 

Thanks to regular “Train like a Women” classes with Jenni Rivett, I took on the marathon without any other form of preparation, finished in respectable time and proud to have been part of a global team empowering impoverished communities in the Cape.  Knowing that our efforts have helped getting an old mill working which brought tears to the eyes of the older generation who remember it working when they were younger.”

Lloyd Hughes ran in Singapore, representing the continent of Asia. Lloyd has been living in Singapore since 2016. Married with 2 children, Lloyd works for S&P Global, having previously worked on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

I really enjoy keeping fit and exercising, so challenging myself with new fitness goals is something I strive for. When I heard about the London Virtual Marathon and the charity we would be supporting I really wanted to partake in this cause” said Lloyd.

Pooran Desai completed his run in Brighton. He had to wait for the rain to ease off before he could even set out.

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