Perhaps I can be accused of having a starry-eyed love affair with road running, the mistress in my life. It is not dissimilar from the love of a soul mate, the love of one’s very being, that passion which evolves over the years until one attains that pinnacle of that love. In the case of road running, this peak is the Around the World Challenge [RTW Challenge].
Why is this so?
Main picture: Eleven of the thirteen finishers of the Around the World Challenge as at June 2017. Back row: Des Robbins, Paul Selby, Dean McCleland, Peter Darroll. Middle row: Lesley Vermeulen, Ric Marini, Sue Darroll, Frik di Preez. Front row: Kosie van Vuuren, Neels Vermeulen
Having recently settled into portly late middle age – that sounds preferable to early old age – I still had one physical challenge outstanding in my life’s inbox to complete: run around the world. Perhaps lack of fitness would be too charitable a description of my physical condition. It was not only the slightly stout demeanour but also my back to consider. It had forced my withdrawal from the Paris Marathon in 2011. With 6000kms still to run, it could even have prevented the achievement of my RTW Goal.
Climbing Mountain Everest was never seriously on my bucket list. Even if I had obtained sponsorship which was highly unlikely, there were the more serious factors such as lack of leave and an irascible wife to contend with. Aside from these considerations, it was utterly inconceivable in that as a South African I would not be able to obtain a visa to 80% of the world, Nepal being one of them, at that time in South Africa’s turbulent history.
Main picture: At the start of the Pick ‘n Pay 21km race at Saheti School together some some of the runners who would accompany me: Ken, Laurie, Nigel, me, Myer, Mike, Amanda and Kurt. They had the heavy work to do: carry the banner for 21,1kms.