It’s been a bucket list month for me, what with the AfricanX trail run, skiing in the French Alps, and running both the Paris Marathon and Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon.

It all started a few weeks ago when my friend Tiaan, who I met in December on a five-day hike across our coastline, invited me to join him at AfricanX, a fun weekend of running through pristine trails covering over 90km in three days, meeting amazing people and just appreciating our health and environment.

Tiaan and Blake finishing stage 2 of AfricanX

AfricanX is about creating memories and experiences with people, having real conversations, helping one another and having fun. And isn’t that what life is really all about?

This was followed by a week at Club Med Val Thorens with CN&CO and some of our friends and clients. It was my first time in France, my first time skiing and my first time at Club Med. I’m now officially a Club Med fan!

And then it was time to run my first big city marathon, the Paris Marathon. My good friends Christelle and Simon Colman ran this marathon a year ago and convinced us to join them and run for the Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa. This is a cause close to my heart after supporting and becoming good friends with Jenna Lowe and her family. Jenna needed a double lung transplant and instead of being depressed and complaining, she selflessly started a campaign to encourage South Africans to become organ donors. She taught me so much, reminded me how lucky I am with my health, how precious time is and how few South Africans are organ donors.

Thanks to Christelle and her team at Europ Assistance, we were all kitted in South African colours and ready to take on the 42km.

Personally I was concerned about the run. My legs were tired from skiing and I was experiencing a bit of pain in my knee.

There were 50 000 people who started the Paris Marathon, which is more than double the size of Comrades – so you can imagine the energy and excitement at the start.

We met loads of fellow South Africans who now live all over the world. This is one of my favourite things about running: meeting people and hearing their stories.

The first 5km were the toughest for me, but I soon got into it and really started taking it all in. I was running with Carel and Lucy, who works at our client RMB. Well, I tried running with them, but I tend to get distracted, so I ended up losing and finding them throughout the run.

The second half of the run was my favourite. Lucy was taking serious strain and it was incredible to watch her dig deep and keep moving while taking in everything around us.


Some of my highlights from Paris Marathon:

  • Sitting on the ground at the start with some inspiring people enjoying the excitement of 50 000 runners
  • Around 25km into the run Lucy was trying to tell me how she doesn’t think she can carry on. Out of nowhere she spotted a little South African flag. It turned out to be her family, so the timing couldn’t have been better. I stopped running and just watched this magic moment, when family and love were the only things that mattered
  • Crossing the finish line with Lucy and a super-cool Russian woman, Alena
  • Bumping into friends and fellow South Africans. The best part is most of them work in the financial industry in South Africa. This is truly an amazing industry!

Follow this link to become an organ donor and help us raise money for the Organ Donor Foundation.

It wasn’t even a week later and I was in Cape Town at the start line of the Old Mutual Two Ocean Marathon, joined by 170 EasyEquities Born2Run runners from around the country. I love watching this club grow and meeting new members at each race.

I was officially a brand ambassador for the #GoGreen campaign for the marathon. I almost stopped road running because I couldn’t handle the amount of litter. I know race organisers send clean-up teams but its impossible for them to collect everything. Plus, if it’s windy or raining we stand no chance and all that litter ends up in our oceans, rivers and mountains.

But even more than that, we should be proud of our country and environment. It illegal to litter anywhere else in the world. We teach our kids in schools to throw rubbish in the bins, yet in races that are viewed by hundreds of thousands live, on social media and on TV, we do the opposite. We feel empowered to litter, and assume others will clean up after us.

We as a running community need to change our behaviour; we need to lead by example, encourage others not to litter, and be proud of our environment and actions.

Two Oceans invested a lot of time and money to create awareness and encourage runners to put their litter in the bins. After all, these sachets would be upcycled into school desks.
I was heartbroken to see that thousands of runners still couldn’t give a damn. What is it that makes them feel so important that they can destroy our planet, poison our kids and potentially stop events from taking place due to litter?

On the other hand, I was smiling as I ran past thousands who didn’t litter and made a concerted effort to find bins. I was impressed by the increase in the number of bins at this year’s Two Oceans, as well as staff who prevented litter from being blown into the sea by the wind.

We are on the right track, but come on runners… let’s show some respect. Let’s not litter!

I am incredibly grateful for my health and the people in my life who make it possible for me to experience the world as I have.

Live adventure, be humble and make a difference.

– Blake


Also read:

Reflections on our #SkiRunOrgan Val Thorens/Paris trip 

Saffers in the snow: The Club Med bug has bitten