Running Africa – Brendan Rendall
Coast-to-coast: Namibia to Mozambique 4000 Km
“With this Africa run I would say about halfway I started to just feel I was
getting fitter and fitter, but obviously with these challenges the physical and how much you really want it: to get up every day to cover almost a marathon in 35-degree heat, your feet are blistered, you’re witnessing extreme poverty, you’re sleeping in a tent.”
Nutrition and hydration
“One of the hardest things was finishing in the heat. The water that had been in the truck was warm, and having the same sort of dish day-in day-out is really tough, so eating became a massive issue. It was almost like “1-2-3 swallow.” You just can’t predict what you feel like eating when you finish.”
“I had small support teams. I had a cyclist nearby with a walkie-talkie and then the truck that would carry the tents and all the equipment, water and
We would try and camp at local schools or local villages to get a real insight into African life so that’s kind of how it worked best for me.
I love creating something as a team. One person, the chef, was
from FOMO, the orphan foundation. He came on the Malawi trip as well. The rest of the team was completely different.”
Running for a reason
“I think you have to follow your heart. My heart is in Malawi and you have to support what charity you believe in. I just see that the money directly goes there. Those people that have donated have seen where their money has directly gone and I think that’s another reason why I love this charity.
For me that’s important because I don’t want to ask people money just to go in a big pot. I want people to be part of doing something and give them the confidence that they’ve seen where their money is going.
No one takes a paid wage from it. It supports three and a half thousand orphans and education for me is one of the most important things so we completed the school.
The girls hostel, the skills accommodation was already done because that was built first because obviously it’s more vulnerable for young girls to be in areas when it’s dark. And then so sort of a natural continuation I would raise money for the boys accommodation with this Africa run.
I think when it’s for children’s education and people can see directly where their money is going it’s amazing for everyone to be involved.
I would start around five o’clock trying to beat the heat in the day and that was beautiful to see those sunrises in the morning when you’d see zebras and antelopes. It was just phenomenal.
Quite often I would see huge prints in the track or in the sand that could be a leopard or a lion and obviously that did make me nervous.
At night was just crazy. In the tents you could hear screams of wild dogs and hyenas and there were quite a few snakes around so that added to the fear factor a little bit.
I kind of go into everything. Sometimes I might not analyze things too much and I’d just think what would be will be.
Sometimes that can be good, sometimes that can be bad. I think it’s probably just being aware a bit more of which areas have whatnsnakes and what you should maybe look out for so to speak, feeling prepared or the consciousness of what could happen is maybe easier.”
Brendan loved to party but a bet with drinking buddies made him sign up for a marathon. His regrets quickly turned into joy when running gave him purpose and daily focus.
“I lived for the weekends I was a huge clubber and I wasn’t active at all. My life would chaos, I was in debt. I suppose looking backing it was because I didn’t have a focus. I’m not someone who was ever depressed or would feel flat; I would say my personality is very upbeat. But I think it was just because for all through school I didn’t know what I wanted to do. You know, we have all these social pressures and I just didn’t have an outlet. I didn’t have a passion, I didn’t have some sort of direction.
No structured days, getting up late, getting to work, going out in the weekends, it was just all chaos.”
When he started running in 2006 it was a start of structure, discipline, and having a focus. He started feeling awake, enjoyed doing his training before going to work, and faced his lifestyle and debts.
It took him 3 months to run his first half marathon. When he found out that his time was 1 hour 24 he was like “wow, I’m actually quite good at something and it was something that I worked for.” He was immensely proud of it because up to 28 he didn’t really have anything as such because before he felt he was always messing around.
At age 36 Brendan was diagnosed with dyslexia, which is exacerbated by his ADHD in terms of changing direction of what he’s thinking. And running is the one thing he doesn’t get bored of that he can focus on, almost like a superpower and hyper focus. It’s why he likes big challenges like his Africa Run.
“Where my mind can’t concentrate on so many things, running is just completely you’re living in that moment. You’re not thinking about tomorrow or this morning, you’re completely listening, you know, feeling your breathing, the sweat running down your face. It is almost like mindfulness to another level, especially in a world where everything is so crazy and everyone is so stressed, and everything is so fast, it kind of just strips it right back and you just go Aahh I’m free, this is this is what it’s about.”
After running the length of Malawi in 27 days, he covered 962 miles in the UK, from John O Groats to Lands End, to give orphans in Malawi a safe future. In 2018 he ran 2500+miles from Namibia to Mozambique to build a boy’s hostel for the charity.
Now he’s preparing for a new and even bigger challenge to set a World Record in 2021!
Check out more about Brendan Rendall and his upcoming adventure on his website: http://brendanrendall.com/