BBC Northwest catch with Brendan as he crosses the Zambian border
BBC Northwest catch with Brendan as he crosses the Zambian border
Distance ran: 27 miles
A great night’s sleep in a proper bed and a slow start due to a complimentary buffet breakfast. Later than usual, a 7am start, I managed to find a track away from the main road, which seemed busy with lorries, and after about 2 miles we took a right and back onto the D roads. It gave me such a buzz to be back on the red dirt feeling like it was just us running through the African plains. A strong 20 mile morning session we managed to find a beautiful spot to camp (this time we asked the landowner). In the evening I was joined by Antonia and Manuel and we ran another 7 miles. On return our dinner was ready and we enjoyed listening to the noises of the bush before all having an early night.
Distance ran: 26 miles
A really good nights sleep, leaving the camper it’s always a bit of a shock actually how cold it is first thing. With a mix of noises, cold and complete darkness I feel like getting back in my sleeping bag, however, once I’m dressed, watered and had a snack I’m ready to make a start. We usually have one hour running in darkness before sunrise and it’s always exciting to see what paw prints are on the dusty track. The last few mornings Libby and I have been non stop talking for the first hour so any exciting animals would have fled the area as my voice is like a foghorn. It’s great to be back on the D roads as there is no traffic, the downside is that they are extremely long and straight. I feel very lucky to be doing this run because we are treated to some of the most beautiful scenery, birds and animals. I have a quick break at 12 miles, a cold coffee from the flask and some snacks, and we’re on our way again. Libby and I gassing again. I stop for another break at 17 miles before Manuel joins Libby and I. We finish the morning session at 20 miles. In the evening Peter, Libby, Manuel and myself headed back out to cover 6 more miles. I quite enjoy the evening sessions as it’s cooler and I can see the landscape around me compared to the mornings when I run for an hour in the darkness. We were rewarded with a very tasty veggie Bolognese and pasta – delicious!
Distance ran: 26 miles
My body clock seems to be programmed quite well and I’m waking naturally around 5.45am. This morning Peter, Libby and myself set off for the morning run. I stupidly became nervous when two cows were stood on the side, one with horns which seemed to be looking at me, so I stayed alongside Libby who then messaged Peter to reverse back as they did look angry. No drama and we carried on. A slightly pathetic morning as I then became nervous of a dog in the back of a moving van! I’ve become overly cautious about anything that could potentially bite or kick me. Feeling quite strong another 20 miles in the bag. The last mile the route took me back onto the D road and through the mountains which was beautiful and I was extremely excited about the evening session. In the afternoon I was joined by Manuel and Antonia and we completed another 6 miles. With the sun going down there seemed to be lots of guinea fowl around and then I got majorly excited because I saw an ostrich running across the field. We also had to dodge a puff adder which does make me think that running along the side by the grass we are slightly vulnerable. Another potential danger to think about.
Distance ran: 26 miles
A slightly slow start but I’m soon into my stride when the most beautiful sunrise appears on the horizon. A big golden circle rising in front of me. There’s something so special about the freedom of running – feeling the sweat run down your face and the sun lighting up the African landscape it feels like total freedom. You’re living in that moment removed from daily stresses. We finally arrive in Grootfontein and head to Beyer Self-Catering where Steve and Antonia were cooking porridge. We are soon introduced to Max the owner who then kindly offered us beds in his extremely cute guest accommodation. His kindness doesn’t end there, he allows us to use his swimming pool, helped Libby with her bike and invited us for an evening BBQ which got even better when I found out it was lamb. In the evening we went out and covered 10 miles where Max joined us on his bike. It was really special that he joined us and was a part of this challenge. When I do these challenges I also enjoy the people I meet along the way and it’s people like Max, who offer so much for free, that make me appreciate what’s important in life. I can’t thank Max and his Wife Irmgard enough. The day will certainly be one for the memory box.
Distance ran: 26 miles
It was so nice to have a lie in, with such great facilities I felt the team would appreciate having a bit of extra time in the morning. We didn’t start running until 8.30am. It was a pretty uneventful day, just a long tarmac road with many trucks. The day was split into two, 20 miles in the morning and 6 in the evening. We camped at Roy’s Rest Camp which was pretty cool. A couple from South Africa were quite interested in what I was doing and were excited to have a photo with me which was sweet but felt funny. There was a lookout hide looking over a waterhole, I did have a look for a minute but all I could see was cowpats! Had an early night with the thoughts of another day on that long road on my mind.
Distance ran: 30 miles
I woke at 1am and needed a wee. Due to me running over 400 miles I thought walking to the toilet block was too far so went against a tree. I wasn’t being lazy I just always think there could be a leopard! Stuffing two doughnuts down my face at 6am I was determined to pull off a longer day due to the long road to Rundu. I got into a good stride and seemed fully focused on the task ahead. Taking on gels and water I resisted from having a break. Starting in the dark certainly helps as you can’t see the long road ahead, there were some interesting trees however and I quite liked the palm trees scattered around. No animals this morning, the only thing that passes us are the juggernaut trucks. I do enjoy how most of them sound their horn and put their thumb up into the air. Libby probably saw a different side of me today because it was no chat – head down and in the zone. I completed the 30 miles in 5 hours, 3 minutes and it was nice to have an afternoon relaxing at Mururani Rest Camp, playing with the very cute Jack Russell puppy and of course eating all the snacks!
Distance ran: 30 miles
It’s certainly been a long road but keeping my head down I’ve managed to cover 30 miles to condense the distance to Rundu from what we thought would be 6 days down to 4. Apart from a few more villages and vegetables for sale on the side of the road, the road really was just up and down like a big dipper. Have gained confidence by running further and I’m excited from Rundu we will head East towards the Zambia border.
Waking at 6am I was reluctant to go outside due to the noises of last night. Me being pathetic, also it was one of the coldest nights so far. I set off at 6.30am knowing Kalkfeld was going to be another town to stock up on bits and another landmark, which mentally was a stepping stone to start heading North East. My legs for the first few miles feel slightly heavy but soon wake up. Being surrounded by such beautiful landscape, antelope running across the road and warthogs trotting into the shrubs help the miles go by. It’s usually around the 6 mile mark that my legs and body kick into action and I feel like I can run for long periods. We reach Kalkfeld where we all scoff chips which seemed to taste rather nice even though they were more like French fries. We managed to find accommodation at a convent, a bed and a shower is much appreciated. In the evening Libby, Peter and myself covered another 6 miles taking today’s total to 23 and passing the 200 mile mark.
A warm shower and early night.
Day 10 and 11
I woke shortly after 11pm with stomach ache and a lot of wind and struggled to relax and sleep. By 2am I had diarrhoea followed by being sick. I was grateful that I had a bed and a toilet to be sick into in the middle of nowhere this would have been more difficult. Laying on the floor sweating I counted to 10 before returning to my bedroom. It’s frustrating that in the space of a few hours I can go from a high to a low.
I had two days off, instead of being filled with negative thoughts and frustration it’s all part of the journey. A message from my mum telling me the news that our friend lost her battle with cancer puts these things into perspective and I really don’t have anything to moan about. Instead turn the two days off due to illness into thinking it’s just two days rest. I’m sure the rest will help me in the long run.
So I’m back after illness, it’s certainly tougher to get up due to breaking the routine. Libby, Steve and myself set off to the start point and within 1 mile my legs feel like brand new. Not to get too carried away I needed to rein my pace in a bit and confidently finished the day with 13 miles. I want to ease back in as it’s still a long way until we reach Mozambique. I can catch up lost miles in the latter part of the run. The main thing is I feel strong and the confidence and smiles are back!
An incredible moment happened early on too, stood in the darkness amongst the trees was a Giraffe – a beautiful moment.
In the afternoon we move from the convent to a camping site called the Crocodile Ranch. We spent the afternoon relaxing in the shade and I was fortunate to meet the owner Anné Noelle who kindly let us look around the crocodiles and surprised us with 5 pizzas. For once I’m listening to advice and being sensible so decide to miss the evening session confident I will return tomorrow full of pizza ready for the marathon distance.
Quite a restless night due to the sound of dogs howling and barking. I think this must be the first time in my life I actually hated dogs. We set off at 6am to re-join the route, it’s been quite a mentally frustrating week because it feels like I’ve been playing catch up. The first 6 miles went smoothly then I lost concentration and the long road ahead seemed forever. Instead of concentrating on one foot in front of the other and reducing the miles one by one I seemed to concentrate and how far the road looked. I also felt I was running on empty so called it a day at 16 miles. Disappointed but realised I needed to spend the afternoon loading up with food and a sleep.
Setting off at 6.30am we finally reached Otjiwarongo and as soon as I ran through it gave me a huge mental boost as at last I felt we were pushing forward. I was joined by a local man who was running, he seemed extremely fit, his English was very limited but he seemed to enjoy running with me for a few miles. We reached the 20 mile mark, a quick donut and some juice and I ran on finding a nice dirt track alongside a railway line. I completed the day with a big smile, 26 miles under the belt. We camped at the side of the road and everyone went to bed early. My team did the usual clear up, each playing an important role of making this run easier for me. I’m extremely grateful for them giving up their time to help. I will be introducing them one by one over the coming week.
I also found a box of Cheerios in the Spar and cold milk 😃
Distance ran: 28 miles
A really good nights’ sleep, same little routine – running kit on, Polar M430 running watch on, head torch, bottle of water and a coffee and off we set. The route today we joined the tarmac road again, it’s a little less eerie on the main road as there were many large trucks zooming past. Their headlights lighting up the road as I jump off to the side. The first 6 miles I felt quite strong and then we stopped to see our first zebra, a beautiful scene across the African plain. I stopped for some pretzels and some water and then set off again determined to put my head down and stride on. I covered 21 miles before heading to Khoi Khoi guest house where they kindly gave us a free camping site. Beautiful gardens, certainly a nice place for everyone to relax. We even got a tour round the owner’s land which seemed to go on for miles. I set off for an evening run running a further 7 miles finding a small track along the railway line was certainly a welcome break from the busy main road. Another big day under my belt, lasagne and salad for dinner and an evening on sofas relaxing with the team. A great way to end the week. I look forward to having a sleep in a bed tonight.
Day 1 – The Start! Sunday 3rd June
Hentie’s Bay. We found a campsite which had showers and a little kitchen area. We parked up and the team put up the tent. In the afternoon I decided I wanted to start and after being in the truck for four days I thought it was a sensible decision to ease into the run. So at 5pm I ran into the Atlantic Ocean and reality sunk in, this was the start of our run across Africa! I’d been surprisingly relaxed about this run hoping I’ve got the training mixed with the experience to get this right. There will be many obstacles that I will have to overcome but I’ve learnt over the years all you can do is give it your best shot.
As I run out of the sea which was bloody cold and extremely rough I was happy to have finally made a start. I didn’t want to go too deep as I thought there may be sharks there. I passed through the small town of Hentie’s Bay, crossed the junction and into the desert. Flat, sandy and a bit like a scene from Star Wars. In some ways it felt like the end of the world which was strange because this was the start! With silence around except for my squeaking trainers I’d ran the first 6 miles. Yay I’ve made a start! High five with Libby who’s cycling alongside me carrying my water and being a fantastic support. Day 1 is done. Back to the camp where the team have cooked our dinner of spicy pasta.
Leaving the ocean
1st camp site – setting up camp.
Manual and Gostar
I slept extremely well and was surprised how cold it was in the morning. We set off to the marker to restart from where we’d finished last night. With my head torch on and music playing (I always listen to music – often DJ sets from my clubbing days). The support vehicle slowly driving behind us it felt very eerie. A light breeze in my face and my feet adjusting to the sand. We were greeted with the most beautiful sunrise but with that came the heat. By 9am it was 30 degrees and the light revealed a long empty sandy road ahead. Nothing apart from a few sparse shrubs. The sun was beaming down on me and I was conscious of keeping as much skin as I could covered while putting suncream on my legs. I decided to pull my buff up over my face and wear my jacket back to front protecting my arms. We stupidly didn’t pack much water, my fault and from mile 13 I would stop to shield myself with the truck from the strong winds. Running on sand with a headwind blowing sand toward you and the hot sun makes for extremely difficult running conditions. A little disappointed but I decided to stop the run at 19 miles. Day two is complete.
In the afternoon we drove up to Cape Cross to see one of the worlds largest seal colonies. An unbelievable sight of thousands of seals led across the beach while many bobbing along in the water. The noise was immense, sounding something like a goat and a screaming child. The smell was pretty disgusting too. But their cute faces made the noises and the smell seem fine.
A special moment.
Waking again to start at 6.30am I was determined to run further today. We set off at 6.30am in the darkness, Libby having her pepper spray close to hand as we were unsure what animals were around. Day 3 would turn out to be the hardest run I’ve ever experienced. The conditions – sand, headwind, temperature – it felt like I was running either on the spot or backwards. Mentally it was extremely difficult but I tried to stay positive and upbeat. In my head I kept thinking one foot in front of the other, this will make me stronger in the long run. We literally are in the middle of nowhere, no villages, no people, no vegetation, just the desert and no Jar Jar Binks (Star Wars)! We camped at the side of the dirt track with the tent feeling like it was going to blow away we all tried to relax in the shade. I went to bed with a sense of achievement as in those conditions I ran 25 miles which was great for my confidence.
We all stood in silence looking up at the stars, it felt like you were in an oval globe (those glass ones you shake and snow flies around). This is the start of an exciting adventure.
Finally as the sun rose another fantastic start to the day there were some trees. A relief after three days of just desert. After yesterday’s struggle in the wind I felt strong and relaxed, my legs had finally realised what they should be doing rather than feeling a little heavy as they had the first few days. I was joined by Manuel today which gave me a boost to have some company. It’s important the first few weeks to get the balance between running alone and having company as mentally it’s a big task.
Another night wild camping, nshima and veg for dinner. The team are getting into a routine of going to bed at 8pm ready for a 6.30am start.
With the usual start time of 6.30am the landscape started to change with mountains in the distance and trees and shrubs either side. The landscape was breathtaking. It was like we were the only people for miles and you realise away from social media (no network) and tv that living in the moment without distractions instead fully appreciating our environment we should do more often. Antonia and Steve would usually leave us once it was light to go ahead and find a suitable place to camp. Our spot for camping this evening was idyllic surrounded by mountains and a large rock we could scramble up and look out in 360 degrees across the African plains. However we did notice several holes and several dead centipede shells. Another 25 miles run taking the total to 100 miles.
Another beautiful sunrise as we approach the gates of a game reserve. As we enter the gates our adrenaline kicks in after the gate man replies ‘yes in here we have cheetah, lions, rhinos and leopard.’ This has to be the most exciting day so far Libby holding on to her pepper spray we’re joined by Manuel and Peter drives the truck closely behind us. Baboons cross the road ahead of us and antelope run further into the trees as we pass by. Towering above the trees I see my first wild giraffe. It’s an unbelievable experience running through wildlife. I’m starting to feel fully relaxed my legs feel great and mentally I feel extremely focused. Tonight we camp up in the mountains, finally a hot shower and views that seem to go on for miles. Manuel and Gostar find a small snake which everyone is very relaxed about until later on when we realise it was a puff adder. The morning session I ran 20 miles, in the evening after the midday sun I went out and ran another 8 taking today’s total to 28 miles. My strongest run yet.
We all set off early and had 12 miles left in the game reserve seeing more antelope and warthogs trotting across the road make me feel I have to pinch myself that this is really happening. The first seven days the terrain has been quite difficult underfoot – sandy, stones and uneven, but I think its good for my joints as it’s lower impact than road. We reached Omaruru and spent the afternoon at a Meerkat Café (no meerkats) we stayed there several hours charging our phones, enjoying coffee and tasty food.
We finally reach a monastery where they offer us rooms for a small donation, another bed and a kitchen to cook in. Rice and veg for dinner and another early night. They kindly gave us eggs as a gift.
The coldest start yet, 5.30am first obstacle – we’re locked in the monastery! I finally find a man with a key who was half asleep but let us out. The day started slow, I seemed to struggle the first 6 miles because all I could see was a long long long road ahead. It was a little unnerving as we saw more paw prints on the track we were running along. The day was split again into a 20 mile morning run followed by an 8 mile evening run. We camped up at the side of the road, as we were all relaxing a truck pulled up and a rather angry man approached us. He was the landowner, once we had explained what we were doing he seemed relaxed and suggested we speak to someone nearby next time. Quite difficult when you don’t see anyone for miles! Another early night, we were surrounded by jackals screaming and a mix of other animal/bird noises. This didn’t make you want to go outside so instead I peed in a pot and threw it outside. A great night’s sleep despite the early noises.
To Donate > click the donation link on brendanrendall.com
Running Africa Coast to Coast 2,500 miles for School Accommodation at Friends of Mulanje Orphans
I arrived in Malawi on the 15th May, I was collected from the airport by Seth from FOMO. It was great to be back in Malawi and be back at FOMO. Visiting their projects was a great start to this adventure.
The highlight was visiting the secondary school at FOMO. The purpose of this run is to raise the £75,000 needed to build school accommodation for boys there. I was able to visit the plot which is ready to be built on. The exciting part is as soon as we reach £30,000 the construction of the first block can start.
I spent the first seven days training and it was good to acclimatise to the heat. I would start running at 6am joined by Manuel who took me on beautiful routes through tea plantations and local villages, with Mulanje mountain towering above us – a good landmark for us not to get lost!
On the 21st May Edyta and myself travelled to Mangochi to spend a week at the lake visiting projects and to run the Impact Malawi Marathon on the 26th May. It was a fantastic week and I met some incredible people which have now become friends and we shared seven special and unique days together. I made the decision not to run the marathon, a hard decision but a sensible one as my focus was on the Africa run. It was however extremely inspiring watching the runners push themselves to their limits in extreme heat.
The journey to the start line
On Wednesday 30th May the team Peter (driver), Antonia, Manuel and Gostar set off at 6am to head to the coast of Namibia. What a great start, we had little fuel and the petrol stations were closed! With only 5k in the tank we managed to get some fuel from the black market recommended by a local policeman. The fuel did the job and we reached a petrol station. Lesson number 1 – always fill up at each petrol station!
The drive took us longer than expected and it was quite stressful going through the Zambian border. However once we were through we found a lovely cheap guesthouse run by the kindest little man. We ate, slept and left again at 6am. Another day of tedious driving, a stop off at a weird hostel where the door wouldn’t close letting in all the mosquitoes and the owner was rather drunk.
Day 3 we finally went through the border into Namibia which was a lot simpler. After a very slow long morning drive we finally had our first surprise. A herd of elephants wandering along through the forest. There’s something so special watching elephants in the wild.
After 4 days we finally reach the coast of Namibia at Swakopmund where we meet the rest of the team Libby and Steve. Another highlight was seeing Manuel and Gostar’s faces at seeing the sea for the first time. A very special moment.
We were also joined by our Mascot Benny Bear #Bennybear
To donate > https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/brendanrendall1
#BennyBear #BrensAfricaRun #FOMO
In 2016 we raised £35,354 when I ran the length of Malawi 708 miles.
I will be returning to Africa in May to run Africa Coast to Coast 4000km Namibia to Mozambique. The run will start on June 1st and I’ll reach Malawi on August 1st where I will run into FOMO secondary school.
We have the land now we need to raise the money to give 88 of the Boys a Home.
Running Malawi saw the completion of the Art and Science Block – here is how £35,354 was spent.