Countdown to Atacama Crossing – 5 weeks to go

Today marks the five-week countdown to my next desert running challenge – the Atacama Crossing – a 250km race from 4-10 October 2015 in the Atacama Desert in Chile.

I have done many multi-stage desert races in recent years, but preparing for any new race remains a challenging process which requires much dedication and sacrifices. August was my biggest training month for the race with many hours spend on the road and trails around Johannesburg, including three 40km+ runs and an 80km run on 29 August 2015 as part of the Dawn2Dusk race in Pretoria.

In the final month leading up to the race my training will focus primarily on strength and conditioning work. A big part of this process is to get re-acquainted with a special aspect of a multi-stage self-sufficient desert race – running with a back pack weighing between 8 and 10kg!

However, I am pleased with my preparations to date, and if I stay clear of any injuries or illness in coming weeks, I should arrive in Chile ready to take on the mighty Atacama Desert.

Sunflower5

I’m dedicating my participation in the Atacama Crossing to the work of The Sunflower Fund in South Africa. Having participated in the Fund’s “Everest Challenge” in March 2015, I’m excited to continue my association with this special organisation. The Fund’s vision is to give all South Africans diagnosed with leukaemia and other life-threatening blood disorders the chance of life, irrespective of their race and financial circumstances.

Leukaemia is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells called “blasts”.

We all have a family member or friend, or know of someone, who has been affected by cancer. Although leukaemia is probably less known than the other cancers, those suffering from it require similar dedicated attention and support.

The Sunflower Fund’s mission is to educate and recruit a viable number of potential bone marrow stem cell donors to be included in the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR). There are just over 70 000 people registered with the SABMR, an unacceptable number for a country with a population of more than 50 million people. An average match ratio is 1:100 000 within a specific ethnic group, and as a result, much more needs to be done to grow the number of stem cell donors in South Africa.

I will be using my participation in the Atacama Crossing, and my blog posts over the next few weeks, to raise awareness about the work of The Sunflower Fund and the unique challenges associated with leukaemia, and to encourage people to register with the SABMR.

All it takes to register is a normal blood test! It does NOT involve drilling into your bones to remove bone marrow.

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Please mark the date – Wednesday, 16 September 2015 – when people living in and around Johannesburg will have the opportunity to become a stem cell donor and included in the South African Bone Marrow Registry. To participate, you have to pre-register by Friday, 11 September 2015.

Click here for more information.

I’m excited about supporting The Sunflower Fund over the next few weeks, and invite you to join me on this journey.

Follow updates on my blog, Facebook and Twitter, and via The Sunflower Fund’s various online platforms.

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About David Barnard

This blog site covers my runs through the deserts of the world in support of social causes and campaigns dedicated to development issues in Africa. My next run is the 250km Big Red Run in Australia from 24-29 June 2017 in support of the Hippo Water Roller.
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