Extreme adventurer risks all for smiles

2010-01-09 00:00

THE South African extreme adventurer David Grier is battling miles, heat and has risked bandits in a gruelling southern Africa run, in a bid to raise funds for the non-profit surgical organisation Operation Smile SA (OSSA).

This is Grier’s third Cipla Miles for Smiles Challenge. In 2006, he ran the 4 200 km Great Wall of China, and last year, he ran the 3 300 km southern African coastline.

Since December 1, he has braved an 11-day, 500 km kayak voyage from Mozambique to Madagascar, travelling across the Mozambique Channel, feared for its tropical storms and searing heat, before swopping his paddle for running shoes and doing a mammoth south-to-north run of the island.

Grier said he included the paddling and kite boarding in the event because he wanted to involve aspects that would challenge him. “I feel this will be my most difficult challenge yet as they are both relatively new sports to me so I am going to have to dig really deep,” he reportedly said.

Ros Walsh, public relations officer at Cipla Medpro, said Grier is currently averaging a distance of 40 km per day and is now over 500 km into his estimated 2 500 km run of the island, after which he plans to paddle and kite board his way back across the ocean to Mozambique.

“Since setting out Grier has contended with huge storms at sea, heat exhaustion, difficult and inhospitable terrain, bandits, lack of food and homesickness,” said Walsh of Grier’s challenges.

She said for the past two weeks Grier has had to run in the morning only because of the heat, however, he is now heading towards the mountains where he will face a new set of challenges.

“The jungle brings with it thick impenetrable vegetation, a lot of climbing and dangerous descents in wet monsoon conditions and many miles along roads reduced to muddy rivers.”

Yesterday, Grier twittered, “Worked out I have a rest day as I have run for six days — what a bonus! Total distance for week 256 km, a big week behind! In Fianarantso, town high up in the mist and rain, cold and wet. I think I have a few very wet weeks ahead.”

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