WHO ARE WE AND WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
Let us quickly introduce ourselves. Our names are Tom Walker; a crazy, animal-obsessed, wildlife biologist - and Michael Bleasby; a thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie with a passion for running. Together we have decided to take on the epic challenge of running the full length of Gambia (that's 260 miles in 10 days!) This challenge will test us to the limit but allow us to give more towards incredible projects and the people of Gambia, as well as our chosen charities back home.
Tom has dedicated his life to the preservation and conservation of some of the worlds most critically endangered animals, and has been lucky enough to run a wildlife conservation organisation called ‘Project Wild Gambia’ which works to conserve some of the world’s rarest animals and, through the development of eco-tourism, assist the people and the economy of The Gambia.
Michael's motivation for taking on the challenge stems from his past as a competitive runner. As a former middle distance track athlete, running has never fully escaped his life and over the last 5 years he's found himself falling in and out of love with the sport… in recent years he has been craving something that will allow him to using his running ability for a purpose and to raise money and awareness for organisations close to his heart.
A small country, which is known as the smiling coast of Africa, Gambia is also one of the most poverty stricken countries in the world but, despite this, the local people and communities remain so happy and grateful for what they do have. Our aim is to do good for the people and wildlife of the Gambia, as well as support local causes back home. This got us thinking of what more could we do. What could we do that's different but will make a big impact? This is when the 10 in 10 run Gambia challenge was born.
In addition to supporting charitable projects in Gambia and the wonderful people of this country, we will also be raising money towards charitable causes that are close to our hearts back home.
help us change lives
We are aiming to raise £10,000 for the people of Gambia as well as our chosen charities however we hope to smash this record to make as big an impact as possible. Please help us and give whatever you can, no matter how small, every little bit can make a huge difference!
We will be running through one of the most amazing countries in Africa, with breathtaking landscapes along the way. It's hard to imagine what it's like living in Gambia without ever experiencing it. This country is one of the poorest countries in the world, with the average wage being less than £1 per day- the simple things that we have in life here in the UK are near impossible to achieve for some Gambians, a clean water supply being one. Despite this, the Gambian people remain grateful for what they do have. We will be raising vital funds to build wells to provide clean water for remote village communities & schools. We will also be launching our 'running at the poachers campaign' to protect the worlds rarest primate who call Gambia home, the Temminck's Red Colobus Monkey. The funds raised will go towards developing incredible community projects to assist the people, the wildlife and the economy of the Gambia.
1 in 4 people suffer with mental health conditions. Just like cancer we are all connected to mental health in someway, whether it's a friend, family member or even just someone you know. Sadly, both Tom and Michael are connected to people who have lost their battle with mental health recently. One of the main reasons for taking on this huge challenge is to shout from the roof tops about mental health, we want people to be aware of mental health issues and know that if you are in the darkest place at the moment, life does get better. Speak out to friends, family or a charity help line. This challenge will test our mental endurance, our ability to keep focused when times get hard, when we feel like we cant run any further, we will step in the shoes of someone who suffers with mental health on a daily basis. Let's spread the word about mental health!
Just like mental health, we are all connected to cancer is someway. There are around 363,000 new cancer cases in the UK every year, that's more than 990 every day… and that’s rising year on year. It’s extremely rare now to find anyone who hasn’t had a close family member or friend that has been effected by cancer. The NHS Darlington Memorial Hospital Cancer Ward is close to both of our hearts as we have seen the work it does for the people of Darlington who have suffered and is still suffering with Cancer.
We will take the 10 hour jeep journey up river to the most eastern point of the Gambia, to a small remote village called Fatoto, on the Gambia/Senegal border. We’ll step off our jeep in the soaring heat and immediately think how on earth are we going to run in this heat. The temperatures here regularly exceed 43 degrees celsius, 10 degrees higher than our finishing point at the capital, Banjul.
The run begins, starting at Fatoto, we will run a distance of 27 miles to the village of Mansajang Kunda, in the upper river division. This will be our hardest run, acclimatising to the overwhelming heat, dust and dry arid landscape and not to forget, this is hyena territory (so we may run a little faster depending on how many are chasing us).
If the Hyenas haven’t picked us off, we will begin the next 31 mile stretch to Mundong, our legs will be sore, but should loosen up after the first few miles. Here poverty is at its highest point with any level of money being none existent. Villagers rely on the land for survival.
It’s our third day of running with nearly 60 miles covered already. Now this stretch is spectacular, we will run 25 miles through the river Gambia national park to Brikama Ba. Hippos, West African Crocs and the undisturbed troups of critically endangered red Colobus Monkeys are just some of the animal we will encounter.
Dongoro Ba will be our next village, adjacent to elephant island on the river gambia. This is a 26.5 mile stretch amongst dense African bush, dirt roads and remote village communities.
Finally a shorter distance! We will cover a much shorter distance of 19 miles today, a chance to give our legs the recovery we need for the next stretch. We will stop at the village of Soma, which is also a ferry crossing point for the River Gambia.
Wow this is getting too easy, only another sweltering 19 miles will be covered today, we will stop at the village of Kwinella, but will recover in the luxury 5 star mud hut resort of Tendaba camp. (Emphasis on the sarcastic ‘5 star’). Tendaba is located amongst the untamed wilderness of Kiang west national park. Here we will get the chance to visit schools.
We’re on the highway, 34 miles, our biggest run yet to the village of Batabut Kantora (Are we nearly finished yet?) We we will have covered a distance of over 180 miles so far.
We will continue on the Gambian highway, running close to the South Gambia Senegal border. Its 21 miles to Kafuta. The end is in site, only another 40 miles to go after today.
It's a 20 mile stretch amongst the hustle and bustle of the Gambia to Brikama.
The very last day, to complete our 260 mile journey across one of the most amazing countries in the world. Just 20 miles and we have finished. We will arrive in the capital Banjul, dodging all the taxis along the way and refusing the temptation to take one for the last leg of the challenge.