Running for Cheetahs
One of the big cats I like the most is the cheetah. Perhaps because we’re both runners. Friends I made in the Antarctic – Kirsi Montonen and Jukka Viljanen – and I decided cheetahs needed help and running seemed the best way to do it. Cheetahs live in and love vast, wide open spaces. One of the widest is the Kalahari, the Great Thirst. We decided to run across the Kalahari in Botswana. Because there isn’t really a border to the desert we added a bit of extra mileage to make sure we covered as much of it as possible. In the end it was 1000km. Four times the length of the Marathon des Sables, which I ran a couple of years later.
I love running in Africa; the people, the scenery and the wildlife. Although, I could do without the puff-adders that like to lie across the road. Not only are they pretty much the same colour as the road, but they’re also venomous and don’t tend to move out of the way as other snakes usually do. They cause more snake related deaths in Africa than any other snake. Keeping an eye out for them was an endless task.
We began the run in the town of Ghanzi. Enduring 30°C+ days and cold nights, we ran for twenty days, with no rest days in between. That’s over a marathon a day.
I began the race in a bad way. I had plantar fasciitis in my one foot – a condition where the recommended methods of treatment is – that’s right; rest. I wasn’t going to be getting a lot of that! Bizarrely enough, the longer the run, the better I felt.
When we arrived in Kanye, we actually got to get up close and personal with one of the cheetahs at the CCB sanctuary. A wonderful experience.