The Kalahari Desert is a wild and untamed place stretching across 350,000 square miles of southern Africa. The arid expanse of land crosses through parts of Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa, and while it is an incredibly dry place, it is still home to a diverse amount of plant and animal life, including giraffes, elephants, hyenas, lions and more. It is a challenging place for any human being to survive in, but that isn’t stopping three adventurous endurance athletes from attempting to cross it on foot none the less.
Dubbed the Trans-Kalahari Run, this expedition will send three friends, Jukka Viljanen and Kirsi Montonen, both from Finland, along with Greg Maud, of South Africa, along a 1000km (620 mile) route that stretches west to east across some of the most wild parts of Botswana. The trio hopes to cover approximately 50km (31 miles) per day, for 20 straight days, in hopes of completing their quest. That’s the equivalent of running more than a marathon, plus five miles, every day for nearly three weeks, through some of the most demanding terrain on the planet.
While this will be an amazing adventure, and a great test of endurance for these long distance runners, they aren’t doing it just for the experience. This adventurous threesome is also hoping to raise awareness and funds for Cheetah Conservation Botswana, an organization that works tirelessly to preserve the population of those speedy felines in Africa, and obviously most specifically in Botswana. Cheetahs have a difficult time competing against other predators in the game preserves, so they are often forced to live in the more marginal border regions where they are hunted and killed by the indigenous people there who see them as a threat to their livestock. CCB is hoping to protect these big cats through community outreach and education with those rural communities, teaching them how to coexist with the Cheetahs.
Jukka, Kirsi, and Greg began their run yesterday, and they are promising daily updates to their blog, so we can all follow along with their progress. They got off to a good start, with a warm-up run of 26km (16 miles), but the real challenges, and adventure lie ahead.
[Photo credit: Elmar Thiel via WikiMedia]