Those who have manoeuvred through the Great Wall of China will know that trekking this 4200km distance is no child's play.
But a South African man and extreme explorer, David Grier, has mastered courage not only to walk along this steep monument, which is characterised by mountain ridges and tall cliffs, but since the end of last month he has been running there each day - all in the name of raising funds for children with kidney disease and babies born with a cleft lip and palate.
The Cipla Foundation trustee and ambassador loves this new challenge. Over the past ten years he has run nearly 20 000 kilometres across the planet for this cause, and had been the catalyst in raising enough funding to put 2500 children through corrective surgery.
In a feat he already completed in 2006 when he became one of the first people in history to run the 4200 km distance in 93 days.
Along with fellow extreme athlete, Andrew Stuart, Grier takes on this gruelling challenge in an effort to create awareness for Ignite Hope - a Cipla initiative that creates awareness and raises funds for the treatment of children with kidney disease and cleft lip palate.
“Awareness gives one hope in a desperate situation, that you can be helped, that you can better your life. To that little ostracised child sitting in the corner in tears every day, as they look on as other children run an play, it gives them the realisation that their dream to live a normal life is within reach,” says Grier.
The duo now aims to complete the journey that they started on March 28 at a pace of 50 to 60 km per day, hoping to complete the journey in 70 days.
Starting where the ocean meets the Great Wall in Shanhai Pass, known in Chinese as Shanhaiguan - one of the major passes in the Great Wall of China -, the two athletes will run along the wall to the pass located at the city of Jiayuguan, overcoming various challenges and dangers along the way.
Their journey is not without any challenges, yet this duo is not daunted with what lies ahead.
“We have already been through hell and are going through it. Things are turning against us, from weather, injury and what lies ahead. None of this will dampen our spirits or resolve to get to the end no matter what is thrown at us,” says Grier.
Currently they they do 60 km a day despite the temperature dropping below zero, resulting in icy slippery surface resulting in the twisting injuring their knees.
“ I fell and twisted my back and nearly broke my finger. We both have an issue with tendinitis - a condition in which the tissue connecting muscle to bone becomes inflamed. We were both worried about this when we started,” explained Grier.
Over the past five years, Grier and Stuart have run more than 9 000 kms, across India, the UK, Ireland, Cuba and Thailand. They also did the Man versus Beast adventure together. Covering a distance of 800km over 16 days along the west coast of South Africa, the ultimate physical and mental endurance race for man and horse alike. Raising awareness and funds to facilitate corrective surgery in animals & in children born with cleft lips and palates.
“Returning to the Great Wall and taking up this challenge again is something that I have been dreaming about for some years now. Through this journey we want to prove to the youth that no matter how insurmountable the challenge is, together we can achieve anything,” says Grier.
“When we first took up the challenge in 2006, it was thought to be humanly impossible to complete the run within 90 days. We look forward to conquering the impossible one more time,” Grier concludes.
To track Grier’s progress, follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Grier’s experiences will also be published on his daily blog davidgrier.co.za