20 Deg South Classic
20 Deg South Classic

The Long and Winding Road

Exactly one year ago today the 18th September 2016 as I sit writing this article, I finished my run across Africa & ran into the sea at Praia do Bilene, Mozambique 2,600km and 3 months after starting on the west coast of Namibia.

When I shared this fact with the world one of my friends asked the question: “What are your thoughts about this achievement, in hindsight?” The immediate thoughts that came to me were these.

As with light & dark, heads & tails, health & sickness, everything has an opposite, naturally, otherwise we would not be able to know them. So there is a negative and a positive side to my thoughts on this achievement. I shall not share the negative side of what happened during and after the run, but now that I am mentally recovered from it all, I will share these three things:

1. Yes, it was a great personal achievement but an empty one because contrary to what many people believe – I did not achieve my dream!

2. All of the negative things taught me a great deal and have proved to be huge learning points for me.

3. An even greater learning for me looking back at it all one year later, and of immense personal development value, has been to see which aspects affected and depressed me the most.

In the space in between the negative and the positive, which at the moment is standing upon its edge like the unlikely result of tossing a coin in the air, is this – I have been for some time, and have very recently stepped up the planning on this, considering doing my run across Africa again, and this time achieving the dream.

My dream was, and is, to do something major and significant for elephant conservation and water sustainability by raising awareness and funding across the globe. And I plan to do this through connecting and educating children and students across the world.

Interim note and key factor – I’m planning it but I have not yet taken the very important step of committing to it!

On the positive side – yesterday, yes, yesterday, the timing of this event is quite amazing, I spent the day in London at the Steppes Travel inaugural “Beyond” festival where many world renowned adventurers and conservationists gave talks and presentations. Thanks to one of the presenters my friend from Cape Town the world record breaking free diver and ocean conservationist Hanli Prinsloo of “I Am Water” (who I will be snorkeling with in Cape Town in January – Yaay!) I have gained direct contact with 8 people and organisations. Four of these have already shown an interest in my new run and want to meet with me to discuss collaboration possibilities.

All are big players and well connected in the world of conservation, such as the Managing Director of Steppes Travel Justin Wateridge, and the Executive Director of Tusk Dan Bucknell.

These next two comments might sound strange to many, but they are wholeheartedly true. I am excited about the possibility of running across Africa again, and it will be an even longer run this time. I am thankful for the difficulties and mental anguish that occurred on my last run, for the lessons, wisdom, and growth they provided.

Now I just need to keep my knees going for a few years and thousands of kilometres more 🙂

Jon O’Hanlon

Praia do Bilene

The Finish Point