David Barnard (51) has become the first person from Africa to officially complete at least one multi-stage ultramarathon on all seven continents.
The Fairland resident completed his 10th ultramarathon when he ran the 250km Fire and Ice Ultra, in the Highlands of Iceland, from 27 August to 1 September.
Speaking to the Northcliff Melville Times upon returning home, Barnard said the run was difficult.
“Most multi-stage ultramarathons have a rest day in between, but this one did not,” he said.
Instead, the runners were on their feet every morning until late afternoon/evening depending on when they reached the next camp, for six days.
This, while carrying all their food, clothing and equipment in backpacks.
Barnard described most of the terrain as rocky, gravel-like landscape scarred by centuries of volcanic activity.
“All the people who pulled out of the race did it because of the blisters on their feet and the damage the ground did to their shoes.”
He said taking an extra pair of shoes is impractical because of the added weight runners would have to carry.
The days were cold and the nights were freezing, with light snow falling from dusk to dawn.
Barnard’s nine years of ultramarathon experience helped him pace himself, and his #NGOs4Africa Campaign was his motivation to finish.
Barnard raised awareness for one non-government organisation at each of his previous ultramarathons.
For his 10th ultra, he decided to rather form a campaign that honours 50 NGOs in Africa that are making a difference.
Along with NGO leaders and experts, Barnard published articles about the NGOs and the challenges they face, and highlighted sportspeople who raise awareness for good causes, on his blog (www.desert2desert4socialcauses.com).
For Barnard, the drive to challenge himself to finish an ultramarathon is consolidated by the need to honour the cause he is running for, and thus he has finished every ultramarathon he has started.
Next, he’ll run the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon in the Cape, in late October in support of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.
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