Kalahari trek for good cause
"I did it. I managed to cross the finish line!" Those were the jubilant words from Nadia Arndt from Mossel Bay, who recently took on the gruelling 19th Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) - not only to be able to say she completed the selfsufficient, seven-day 250km race in the desert herself but for a good cause to boot.
Arndt donned her competitor's cap for this year's KAEM - after assisting with the race's organising over the past 19 years - to help a fellow runner who lost his leg years ago, to again take on racing comfortably.
Her completion of the KAEM, held from 20 October in the Kalahari Desert in the vicinity of the Augrabies Falls on the Orange River, has brought Sedgefield local and avid Parkrun competitor, 70-year-old Dave Wright, a step closer to having a running prosthesis of his own.
Wright has competed in close to 170 Parkruns to date, all with an everyday prosthesis.
He lost his leg in 2011 in a motorcycle accident.
'I have two legs, two feet'
Back at her home in Mossel Bay, Arndt said that reality is slowly setting in after the race. "Thinking of the the one 78km day which took 26 hours, I realise one thing that kept me going and that I repeated over and over again, was 'I have two legs; I have two feet.'
"What a privilege to have had the opportunity of participating in the event, even though I walked the whole way," Arndt added.
Arndt started a Back-a-Buddy campaign to assist Wright. At the time of going to print almost R35 000 had been raised, she said, adding that more sponsorships would be coming in with the assistance of prosthetist Allan Oates.
"Allan has managed to secure some sponsorship from his side as well so he will start making Dave's leg," Arndt said.
A prosthesis such as this can cost between R120 000 and R150 000, depending on what is needed. According to a KAEM press release, the race, known as the "Big Daddy" of ultra-trail marathons, saw 56 runners from 12 countries take on the Kalahari Desert.
At the end of the week-long battle with the elements it was two South Africans who rose above the rest. Bennie Roux finished first in 24 hours 11 minutes, while Erica Terblanche, the 2002 winner, took first place in the women's race with 28 hours 49 minutes. Although the campaign is now closed, said Arndt, anyone who wants to add to the funds raised can contact her (na[email protected]) and she will forward the necessary details.
A perfect place to take a breather. Nadia Arndt takes in the scenery during the race. INSET: Nadia Arndt
After a long day out in the Kalahari, Nadia Arndt takes a break.
Ah, that’s a relief. Nadia Arndt finally releases five x two little piggies after a hard day’s trek.