I’m not a singer and won’t even try to do justice to the John Denver song – “Leaving On A Jet Plane”.
But my bags are packed, I’m ready to go, and tonight I leave on a jet plane to Australia for the 250km Big Red Run which starts on Saturday.
Getting to the race will be an ultramarathon in itself. Over and above months of planning, training and packing for a six-day self-sufficient desert race, and applying for an Australian visa which was almost not issued in time, I will be travelling non-stop for the next three days to get to Birdsville, the starting point of the race in the heart of the Simpson Desert.
My first stop is Perth, then on to Adelaide, and then a two-day bus trip into the Outback to finally reach Birdsville by Thursday evening.
But with all the preparations done, I’m looking forward to the race – my ninth multi-stage desert race and first in Australasia. Having completed desert races in Africa, Asia, Antarctica, and South and North America, this is the sixth leg of my quest to complete one of these races on all seven continents.
Over the next few days I will provide more information about the race and how to follow my progress.
But running the Big Red Run is ultimately about more than just completing another desert race.
South Africa is not only a water-scarce country, but many communities still lack adequate infrastructure to access clean running water. As a result, they have to spend countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and carrying heavy buckets.
Fortunately, a unique South African invention – the Hippo Water Roller – makes it extremely easy to collect water in tough rural conditions and informal settlements – up to 90 litres or 5 times more water than a single bucket, by simply rolling it along the ground. It is an appropriate technology, with immediate benefits, transforming water collection from a daily chore to a task performed only a few times a week.
I’m using my participation in the race to raise awareness and money – $6 250, the cost of 50 Hippo Rollers – which will be distributed through Youthzones, a youth organisation working in needy communities throughout South Africa.
Please visit my fundraising page, make a donation, and encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same.
The countdown to the Big Red Run continues…