We’ve now crossed the finish line

By January 12, 2015 Blog No Comments

On October 25th Mimi and I completed our 1968km run across South Africa’s Freedom Trail. We felt elated and a tad delirious, especially after we gulped a glass of champagne whilst dehydrated at the finish line. For just over a month we managed challenges that consisted of navigation, technical trails, changes to our well devised plan, running an ultramarathon for 32 consecutive days and living in a bubble that consisted of two runners, 7 crew members and the landowners to the homes/properties we stayed at each night.

Here is a video of that special moment as we crossed the finish line in Paarl. Footage by Steve Young and Tom Bell from Thousand Faces.

The question I have been asked many times since returning home is ‘how hard was it?’… Well, it was hard but surprisingly it was less so on a physical level than I would have imagined.  Mimi and I were enabled by our incredible crew to create a routine that allowed us to focus only on the running component of the project. We kept our minds only to the now, rarely dwelling on what had past and certainly never thinking ahead. For the most part I believe our success came down to four things:

  • our crew – were our lifeline and the backbone behind the project. Not one day could have been completed without their support, I am eternally indebted to them.
  • focusing on the present – which initially was one day at a time and later into the expedition we changed that to half a day at a time.
  • staying realistically optimistic and reamining wanderlust
  • our project partners – who provided a range of support (vehicles, clothing, gear, satellite technology, nutrition and finance – I will list these dreammakers later on).

Photo credit: Eric

As proud as I was of that finishline moment, a significant part of me knew that we had not yet reached our goal. Of course running that distance, in that type of way, was important to me –  but the run intself wasn’t my driving motivation in going to South Africa.

For that reason – I am so delighted to announce that 11 months to the day after we received our first donation, we have raised $55,023.00* for Save the Children.


Since 2005 Save the Children has been implementing a number of Developmental Programs in two communities of KwaZulu-Natal, in South Africa.  These are rural areas that are characterised by unemployment; poverty; HIV/Aids; children who are in ‘informal foster care’; single parent families; child-headed households; school dropout; and teenage pregnancies.

Young women in these communities have problems associated to their menstruation, significantly in part to the unaffordability of feminine hygiene products. This flows into poor attendance at school, likelihood of school dropout and low self esteem.

Where will the money go? (in brief): 

  • selected Save the Children staff in South Africa are to receive training from a local organisation around menstrual management.
  • feminine hygiene products will be manufactured by a sewing skills project for women from disadvantaged communities.
  • from March 2015 to February 2016, 800 girls will access these products in addition to workshops on health & hygiene and the importance of education.
  • workshops will also be given to the primary care-givers of the girls around both these issues.



I thought it would be helpful to do a short analysis on the funds raised for this initiative with Save the Children.

1. Countries where funds were raised & amount (via https://donate.savethechildren.org.au/FreedomRunners)

  • Australia: $28,989.25
  • United Kingdom: $11,307.81
  • South Africa: $2,446.58
  • United States: $1,835.62
  • Canada: $1256
  • Hong Kong: $700
  • Cyprus: $135
  • New Zealand: $125

2. Countries were funds were raised & amount (via pozible campaign)**  

  • Australia: $8,752
  • United Kingdom: $3,570
  • Canada: $1002
  • United States: $850
  • South Africa: $458
  • Hong Kong: $688
  • Ireland: $136
  • United Arab Emirates: $52
  • Switzerland: $52

 3. What is an average donation?

396 donations/pledges were made. An average donation/pledge was $161.44.

4. How many major donors did Freedom Runners have?

 A major donor for this project was $1000 or more. Major donors were as follows:

  • $3,000 from Rotary Club of Cairns Sunrise
  • $1,500 from Banking in Women (Barclays Bank Group SA)
  • $1,800 from Talbot Underwriting (UK)
  • $1,800 a personal donor (James Manclark)
  • $2,000 from a personal donor who I met during a speaking engagement in Sydney (AUS)
  • $1,000 from Paul McAllister from QED Business Development
  • $1,000 from Ray D’Cruz and Patrick Fitzgerald at SkillsScorecard

 5. What funds were raised through events? 

Several events were hosted by the Freedom Runners team or by people on our behalf

  • $6,546 raised through 2 official screenings of Deserts Runners in Melbourne, one screening was hosted by close friends Lisa Cant and Selena Kearney.
  • $700 raised through a Canadian screening of Desert Runners, hosted by Mike Herzog & Good Guys Tri.
  • $413.58 raised through 2 screenings of Desert Runners in South Africa, hosted by Mimi in Cape Town and the other in J’Burg.
  • $176 raised through a private film screening, hosted by Amanda Steidle from Turbo Superfoods
  • $150 raised through a private film screening, hosted by Michael Walker

Photo credit: Tim Anderson


Outside of the funds raised for Save the Children, Mimi and I had several joint and individual ‘dreammakers’. Having the opportunity to run across South Africa and see the things that we saw will stay etched in my memory and I am ever grateful for the support of the following:

Major Project Partners 

Ray Zahab – both Mimi and my coach!! We love you.

Think Office Technology

Nicollas Steyn & Associates

Bushy Creative

One Life Live It / Dr Simone Ryan

Virtual Elves Outsourcing Solutions / Kristy Smith



Kemi Nekvapil 

The Naked Word / Natalie Baldock

Digital and technology 

Bushy Creative – Founder Nic Davidson has been my creative agency of choice since 2010 and I have relied on his intelligent digital and creative mind for numerous projects, Freedom Runners was no different.

August – Daniel Banik and his team stepped into the digital marketing of Freedom Runners during the expedition. Converting our website into a live tool to update people on our progress and generate further donations.

The Inkerman Group – We used their tracking technology for both security and social media reasons.

Iridium – From the Iridium Go! device to satellite phones, we were able to connect with each other and the world outside of the expedition.

Logistics and security

Nicollas Steyn & Associates – Rory Steyn funded our security research and personnel throughout the expedition. We were also blessed to have his company for a couple of days towards the end of the project.

Louise and David Clamp – Provided more hospitality and support to the entire Freedom Runners team pre and post expedition than you could imagine.

Kimberley Dods – Generously lent us her own vehicle for our support crew. We had considerable trouble sourcing a vehicle for this project and this offer of support was exactly what the project needed to get off the ground.

Freedom Challenge – Meryl and Glenn patiently supported our idea by arranging our accommodation with the farmers/locals and coordinating our route with Andrew King.

Volkswagen South Africa –  These guys came to our rescue in our final weeks before we headed out to South Africa. They loaned us their VW double cab Amarok vehicle and even helped us get a spare tyre in the middle of nowhere.

Protea Hotel – The crew were looked after at Protea’s Ice and Fire Hotel in central Cape Town – best milkshakes we have ever had.

Velolife – We had the safety net of a MTB with all spare parts for our crew if the need arose.


Infinit Nutrition was my official nutrition supporter.

Apparel, shoewear and gear

Brooks – Were our official apparel and footwear sponsor and kitted the entire team out.

Personal support in South Africa 

Whilst we were in South Africa we had endless support, notably from Vanessa Haywood, Ryan Sandes, The Clamp’s, Linda Doke, Simone Bishop, Chris Edwards, Daksha Hargovan and Eric Tollner.

Photo credit: Maxime Beauchamp

*$600 from that total amount is a pledged donation yet to be processed.

**deduct pozible fees + pledge expenses + digital campaign costs