Earlier this year I took part in MAD2Run, which saw a group of ordinary people running from Johannesburg to Cape Town to raise money for education.
Although the event was only one week long, the build-up to the run took the better part of six months. During that time my entire family, company and friend group supported me. The entire experience was exceptionally humbling and I learnt a lot about myself, in particular that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to WITH the help of the fantastic people in my life. The importance of self-belief, which should never to be underestimated, is sometimes outweighed by the power of others’ belief in you.
On the fifth day of the run we found ourselves in the Karoo, roughly 20km from Sutherland. The road was corrugated gravel on a camber, making every step uneven. Due to the low visibility it was hard to judge where to land your stride. For some reason my running style and shoes weren’t doing me any favours and I soon felt a searing pain in both my Achilles tendons. Most people have heard the story – if an Achilles snaps it sounds like a gunshot! I was wondering if I would be able to corroborate that story by the end of my run.
I had about 7 km left and the circumstances weren’t improving. The road remained uneven, the light of the moon illuminated the road poorly, and what felt like hot lead balls in my Achilles proceeded to “grow” and the pain worsened.
By the time I hopped back into the pace vehicle I was convinced that my MAD2Run event was over. I applied some Deep Heat, ate a boiled egg and had a deep, long think about the situation I currently found myself in. Sitting in the car, legs burning, I had two options:
- Give up
- Carry on
In this day and age it is easy to give up. Not many people will hold you accountable. Giving up is commonly, unfortunately, accepted by society.
While the decision to give up might have provided some immediate relief, there are far greater implications for the future when you need to rely on yourself again. That thought essentially removed one of my options, so the only choice left was option number 2: Carry on.
And so I did.
Hundreds of people had supported me and the team in the build-up to the run. Donations were flying through the Givengain website during the week of the run. We had met MAD scholars who were benefiting from the money raised. People were relying on us; they were supporting us and they believed in us.
You are never alone in what you do and I had the support of my teammates, Jon and Graeme, sitting there in the car with me at 2 in the morning. Jono was carrying a far greater injury and watching him during his run, jerking his right leg with every step, I realised that I had to keep running. If I didn’t do it, someone else would have to. But in what world would that be right? I had set out from the beginning of the MAD2Run event promising everyone, my teammates, myself and friends, that I would run my kilometres. No one had forced me to sign up so I had to be accountable for that commitment.
Using what I could, I strapped myself up to the best of my ability, finished my 20km and headed out onto the road again.
The remaining days of the run weren’t exactly a walk in the park (excuse the pun), but thanks to the support of my team, the magnificent physio Megs and everyone back home, I got through it. People were depending on us to do what we said we would. By the time the MAD Crew ran across the finish line of the Two Oceans Marathon, we had raised over half a million rand for education, the culmination of hundreds of people making a difference.
One of the biggest supporters of MAD2Run was CN&CO. The people I work with are a prime example of making a difference. The Insurance Institute of Gauteng hosted its inaugural 24-hour charity spinathon in April and it proved to be a great success. The entire CN&CO team took part and, along with associates, friends and some rather crazy nutters (who cycled the for the duration of the event), another half a million rand was raised for various charities.
The industry is full of passionate people committed to improving peoples lives and one cause that we as a company are continually committed to is cancer awareness. Most members of the team, and indeed the vast majority of you reading this newsletter, have been affected in some form or other by cancer and the devastating affects it has on friends and family. For that reason, the charity of choice for our midnight-CN&CO-hour was the Pink Drive. It’s also the charity that Carel is supporting in his Comrades Race4Charity fundraiser.
The Pink Drive does amazing work in changing the perceptions of cancer while providing free medical services to those affected by breast cancer. At the time of writing, the Pink Drive is sitting at the top of the leader board in terms of money donated for Comrades. Last year Carel raised R160 000, the highest ever for a Comrades cause, and this year is continuing that trend. While the amount of money raised is incredible, it is another example of hundreds of people coming together to make a difference for a better world. As the famous proverb goes “If you want to fast, go alone. If you want to go far; go together.”
So do it. Start something. Along the way people will come to support you, often in unexpected and surprising ways. The point is, if you commit to DO something and take that first step, the rest will sort itself out. Setbacks inevitably occur but they provide opportunities to go in new directions, learn a thing or two about yourself and ultimately have some fun along the way. Thousands of people run the Comrades, thousands more have donated to causes. Bit by bit, the Pink Drive total on the leaderboard has risen.
A lot of people giving a little can move mountains and that is what we can all do, every day. Do not be idle in life, take the first step and make a difference. Everything is possible, life is short so don’t waste time. We all have the ability to make a difference, big or small, every damn day.