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March for the missing

16 February 2018 | People

Otis Finck

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An adventurer who is on a solo running mission across four southern African countries to raise funds for a non-governmental organisation that helps trace missing children, arrived in Swakopmund last week.

Gaven Sinclair (44) is preparing for the second last stage along the coastline of his 3 000 km solo and unsupported running journey across Africa, in aid of Missing Children SA.

Gaven, who hails from South Africa, is an ambassador for the organisation and raises awareness as well as much needed funding for the NGO through his exploits.

He is also an avid campaigner against human trafficking which he says results in forced labour, organ trafficking or sex work. He is also a strong spokesperson for nature conservation.

“Children are vulnerable and increasingly being targeted by human traffickers for labour, sex work or organ smuggling. It is a global problem and those who know estimates that approximately 1,2 million children are affected by human trafficking - which is a multi-million dollar industry - internationally every year. This is my first visit to Namibia. Namibians are great, and the support I am receiving is phenomenal,” says the man who wants to inspire, create awareness, motivate and make a difference in the lives of others.

He is in Swakop to finalise his route logistics and to obtain advice from locals for the final part of his journey on foot.

The life coach, motivational speaker and endurance adventure blogger arrived at the coastal town from Windhoek after he started his solo run from KwaZulu-Natal in September last year. He is considering to include a desert stage.

The #TheLongestTrailRun adventure is his seconnd unsupported solo challenge, solely by foot and covering a distance of 3 000 km.

His running journey through 4 countries and over 210 days started on 1 September 2017 in St Lucia, Kwa-Zulu Natal, from where he ran north towards Mozambique.

“I met my fiancée during my run through the country and it is definitely one of the highlights of my adventure. I like to challenge myself physically and mentally. This is also a perfect opportunity for me to get in touch with nature.”

From Maputo he proceeded along the Mozambique coastline and turned west towards the border of Botswana.

“During the coastline stretch I had to run backwards for 1 km distances at times. I also changed the angle on my ankles to safeguard my Achilles heel and to ensure that I complete the journey injury free.”

He then journeyed through Botswana to the Okavango delta and entered Namibia via the Caprivi strip. He boarded a truck for passage through the Etosha National Park.

He basically relies on the media to reach a wider audience. The whole exercise is self funded and can be quite costly.

Carrying an eight kilogramme backpack, Sinclair runs an average of 40 kilometres per day. His bag contains items such as compression socks, toiletries and a pair of running shoes.

“Because I am solo, I can only carry water for one day. Nutrition and proper planning is thus crucial. Your immune system must be kept strong and I’ve learned to listen to my body. It is definitely a huge physical and mental challenge and I already lost 10 kg along the way. A positive is that I get to experience new challenges daily during my journey. The cultural experiences and contrasting environments as well as survival instincts play a large part from day to day.”

His journey will officially end at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, possibly in March 2018.

Zimbabwe was initially included on his schedule, but was dropped due to personal reasons and the initial 5 528 km run was reduced to 3 000 km.

He has previously cycled 10 038 km solo and unsupported from Cape Town to Cairo in 2016.

Gaven completed this, which was his first unsupported solo bike challenge, in 268 days.

On average he covered 100 km per day and up to 11 hours of pedalling each day in support of Missing Children.

Some of the challenges he encountered along the way was having to dealing with malaria and paddling for his life when people tried to attack him in South Sudan.

“Never let a stumble in the road be the end of the journey. Know your limitations and then defy them. It's important not to get hit by the circumstances and become what the situation wants you to become,” he advised.

Follow Gaven's journey on missingchildren.org.za/page/ambassadors, www.instagram.com/gaven.sinclair73/ or www.facebook.com/public/Gaven-Sinclair.