In November 2012, Dr David Crombie will attempt an historic solo world first by running the entire length of the Mekong River (the 10th longest river in the world)…from its source to the sea. This trans-country challenge starts at the Golden Triangle, where the Lancang River that flows through China becomes the Mekong River. The Mekong flows through Laos, Cambodia and ends at the South China Sea in South Vietnam. Given the nature of the route it will arguably be one of the most grueling ultra-trail runs ever undertaken, and certainly the greatest ECCT challenge to date. For David it will combine a quest for the ultimate personal physical and mental challenge and an abiding passion for making a difference by raising funds for the Endurance Challenge Charity Trust (ECCT) that cares for orphaned children who are innocent victims of the HIV/Aids pandemic.
David will run as close as possible to the Mekong River at all times, taking into account possible forced detours and the need to run on a de-mined route, and aim to average 250km per week (a standard marathon (42km) on six days out of every seven), for approximately 2.5 months. The challenge, quite apart from the sheer distance, will include facing extreme and relentless physical and mental demands, including exhaustion, injuries, blisters, exposure to the elements to mention but a few. On the many isolated and inaccessible stretches of the river replenishing food supplies and water will be a major difficulty – as will avoiding sunstroke, hyperthermia, dehydration, hypoglycemia etc. A support crew in a four-wheel drive vehicle will be on hand for the duration of the run. However, where the route makes this support option impossible, David will run self-sufficient with a backpack until able to reunite with the support vehicle. A detailed travel diary, text and visuals, will be maintained for the duration of the run with regular transmissions to print media, websites, weblogs and sponsors.
David is the Chairman and Founding Trustee of Endurance Challenge Charity Trust. He has a PhD in Sports Science, and is currently a Research Fellow at the Sports Science Institute, University of Cape Town. His running pedigree extends to over 100 standard marathons…including New York and Boston, and 30 ultras such as Two Oceans, Comrades, and Washie. For many years David has actively raised funds for various charities through his running, most notably the Helen Keller Society for the Blind, who received the profits of a book he wrote to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Washie, the oldest 100 Miler in South Africa.
Previous Team ECCT fundraising extreme ultras led by David include the 2007 Himalayas 100 Miler in India/Nepal; 2008 Amazon Jungle Marathon 220km race in Brazil; and 2009 Kalahari Augrabies 250km desert race.
Honorary Patron: Tim Noakes
Prof. Tim Noakes was born in Harare, Zimbabwe and studied at the University of Cape Town (UCT) where he obtained an MBChB degree in 1974, an MD in 1981 and a DSc (Med) in Exercise Science in 2002. He is Professor in the Discovery Health Chair of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of Cape Town. He is also Director of the UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine and co-founder with Morné du Plessis of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA).
Noakes has published more than 450 scientific publications, has been cited more than 11 000 times in the scientific literature, has an H index of 57 and is rated an A1 scientist by the National Research Foundation of South Africa. In 2003, he received the UCT Book Award for Lore of Running (4th Edition) which is considered the “bible of the sport”. Among his other published works are Rugby without Risk, Bob Woolmer’s Art and Science of Cricket co-written with the late Bob Woolmer, and his scientific autobiography Challenging Beliefs.
In 2002 Noakes was awarded the International Cannes Grand Prix Award for Research in Medicine and Water for his work on Exercise-associated Hyponatraemia (EAH). In 2004 Runner’s World (USA) included this work as one of the 40 most important “persons or events” in the sport of running in the past 40 years. In 2008 he was elected an honorary fellow of the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine (UK), the first foreigner to be so recognised. In that year he also received the Order of Mapungubwe, Silver, from the President of South Africa for his “excellent contribution in the field of sports and the science of physical exercise”.