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“You should run across Africa”
“You should run across Africa,” Dominic said in a straightforward way. “You should run from Alexandria to Cape Town. If someone can do it, you are the one.”
This silly but simple suggestion, over a phone call no less, sparked a fire. I began to aggressively explore the possibility of completing such a monumental task, researching intensively on anything I could find. My passion was full on, like it was pumping in my blood.
I found in my research that at least one man had done it before. Nicholas Bourne, a British distance runner, who completed the journey in 318 days from January 21 to December 5, 1998. The more dramatic details of his journey were interesting and exciting — he used up dozens of pairs of shoes, ran into poisonous snakes, big cats, and giant elephants — but it was the fact that he raised money for charity that caught my attention. This one man, on one run, raised one million pounds for the Born Free Foundation and Save The Children.
Reading about the run charged me up like learning about Terry Fox when I was younger. The difference this time was that I was now a runner myself with some considerable distances under my belt. The one final detail that helped me continue to humor the idea was that Bourne had actually failed in his first attempt. He stuck with it, tried it again, and succeeded.
I found a way to arrange a Skype all with Nicholas Bourne to learn more about his experience. He was so kind with his time, the most generous adventurers I have ever met. He gave me great advice about the journey and was incredibly humble about having completed it. Over the course of about an hour with Dominic and I, Nicholas told us how he got stuck at the borders of countries, of how he got malaria, and how he ran into other issues that caused him to stop at various times before he ultimately made it. I knew these challenges would be among the many I would have to face too, but looking them in the face felt good.
At that point, I began to consider the possibility that I could seriously do it. I could run across Africa. This amateur runner, who started on treadmill only ten years earlier, could run for a full year straight and do what no woman before her had ever done. I didn’t doubt the running part, it was the organization that was the huge unknown.