Cool Runnings: 100 Days to the Grand to Grand Ultra

Jun 17, 2016

By: James Porter, Associate Director, External Relations

As training for my first marathon begins this week, I remain in awe of David Barnard. With a little under 100 days to go until his journey begins, I am reminded of what training for an ultra marathon and combatting neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) have in common: determination, coordination, discipline, planning, and dedication. These commonalities make David’s experience even more inspiring. 

By: David Barnard, Vice President: Africa at TechSoup, and Advisory Board Member of the ONE Campaign in Africa

It’s that time of the year: the 100 day countdown to my annual desert running adventure. This year, I’m dedicating my participation in the Grand to Grand Ultra to the END Fund's work in Africa

Starting on September 25, 2016, I will be taking on the six-stage, 273 km Grand to Grand Ultra marathon through the Grand Canyon in the United States. This will be my first desert race in North America, and the fifth in my quest to run ultra races on all seven continents!

Preparing for any desert race is a significant challenge, which requires much planning, dedication and sacrifice of both body and mind. So in essence, the 100-day countdown serves as a reality check for my progress and a reminder of the various ways I still need to prepare.

First, getting into the right physical shape is crucial. To complete a multi-stage, self-sufficient, desert race requires a serious level of physical fitness and mental toughness. There are no short cuts in preparing for races of this nature. You have to run a lot, cover some serious mileage and, more often than not, do it on consecutive days. 

Even in training for the race, David creates awareness with his official END Fund gear.

Second, in addition to physical training and conditioning, clothing, equipment and nutrition are also key elements to successfully finishing a major race like this. Fortunately, I have already completed a number of these races, and have a good understanding of what works for me and the issues that always require attention during an ultra race. 

Finally, there is more to running the Grand to Grand Ultra than just trying to finish another desert race. My participation in these races provides me with an opportunity to support non-profit organizations and social causes that make a difference in society. My aim is to raise at least $10,000 for the END Fund, promote its work, and contribute to increased public understanding of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and their devastating impact, especially in Africa. 

There is still much to do over the next 100 days, but I’m excited about the challenge of taking on the Grand to Grand Ultra this fall, and the opportunity to support the END Fund.

I invite you to join me on this journey, support my fundraising campaign and encourage others to do the same. And check my blog, Facebook, and Twitter for updates on my progress in the days leading up to the race.

Together, we can END NTDs!