Dave Chamberlain is raising money for the African Penguin Relocation Project by running the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon route 50 times on 50 consecutive days leading up to the 50th anniversary edition of the iconic race. Picture: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - As if running the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon isn’t an astonishing enough feat, one man has taken on an epic challenge to run it 50 times in the 50 days leading up to the race.

Endurance runner Dave Chamberlain is celebrating the Two Oceans’ 50th anniversary by running the race 50 times over - totalling a mind-blowing 2800km.

He's already clocked up 25 of the 50 runs, putting more than 1400km behind him.

Determination keeps him going.

“I think it’s just pigheaded stubbornness,” Chamberlain said.

“I have a belief that this project is within the realm of most people, so I feel I have to prove it. I’d be disappointed in myself if I didn’t.”

He’s doing the 50-50-50 challenge in aid of BirdLife South Africa, raising funds for the African Penguin Relocation Project.

It is not Chamberlain’s first crazy long-distance challenge.

The Pretoria-born athlete has run the length of Argentina, crossed Canada and run through the Namibian desert to Port Elizabeth.

To tackle this latest endurance adventure, he wakes up every morning at 4.30am, and focuses on eating a carb-rich breakfast before getting his run started at 6am in Newlands.

“I don’t worry about tomorrow or day 30, otherwise I’d do my head in,” he said. “Days 4, 5 and 6 are awful, as your body is getting used to it. Everything is inflamed, and your tendons feel like they want to snap.

“Then the body learns how to adapt and ups its efficiency at dealing with all the waste products.”

Once your body gets used to the demands of running an ultra marathon over and over, he said that each day’s run becomes active recovery from the day before.

“The body actually heals itself while you’re running,” he said.

Approaching the halfway mark this week, Chamberlain said he was feeling physically strong, but running the same loop every day was taking its toll psychologically.

“I feel like my body has adapted to the distance, it’s holding up much better than anticipated,” he said.

“It’s going to be a test of the mind. The boredom is going to be my biggest threat,” he said.

You’d expect Chamberlain to follow a strict diet plan to keep his body functioning optimally through this extremely gruelling physical task, but he laughs at that suggestion.

“My nutrition is whatever I can shove in my face and actually feel like eating. “I don’t want to be miserable because I’m eating carrots and celery sticks,” he said. Most days, that looks like sausage rolls along the route, and an ice cream at the finish line.

His lowest point on every run is heading up Constantia Nek from Hout Bay. By this point, he’s already run the 42km of a full marathon, and the lack of shoulder on the road makes it a taxing uphill slog surrounded by traffic and with ankles taking strain.

Beneficiary BirdLife SA is facing its own two oceans challenge.

African Penguins are struggling to survive in their current Atlantic Ocean home because their favourite food source, sardines, have moved from the West Coast to the south coast.

The penguins colonies haven’t been able to follow their prey, because there are no safe breeding areas along the Indian Ocean.

The money that Chamberlain raises will go towards establishing new, safe colonies for the penguins along the Indian Ocean, so they are able to feed themselves and survive.

To sponsor a run and donate towards the cause, visit www.505050.org.

Weekend Argus