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Let’s support optometrist Russell Nugent from Upington

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Kamogelo Makgalo
Russell Nugent

From Russell Nugent:

As an optometrist the plight of people suffering with Keratoconus is of obvious concern to me. It’s heart breaking the number of people whose KC has progressed to the stage that their only hope is a corneal graft. I’ve partnered with the Keratoconus Foundation of South Africa to raise funds to assist individuals identified by the Foundation in need of this procedure. The first beneficiary will be Kamogelo Makgalo, a 15 year-old boy from Pretoria who’s been on a waiting list for some time.

I’ll be using my participation in the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon firstly to create awareness of the plight of these people and secondly to solicit donations to fund the procedures needed.

The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon is a 250km self-sustaining stage race across the Kalahari. Runners are expected to carry EVERYTHING they’ll need during the week. Except water – this the organisers graciously provide as needed. The distance is broken up into 6 stages with distances as follows: 

Day 1: 26km
Day 2: 35km
Day 3: 38km
Day 4: 78km
Day 5: Rest Day
Day 6: 48km
Day 7: 25km

At the end of each day rudimentary shelter in the form of gazebos is provided. Runners make themselves comfortable as best they can with sleeping bag and some form of make shift mattress.

I’m not a complete novice to the world of endurance sport, having completed 10 Ironman triathlons, 2 Comrades Marathons, 7 Two Oceans Marathons, 5 Cape Epic MTB Stage Races and The Transalps MTB Stage Race.  It’s is however the first time I’m doing a race that’s demanded this amount of physical preparation and planning. I’ve needed to consider things like:

  • What the minimum amount of food is I can get away with over the course of a week. Considering that I will need enough calories to stay alive and cover 250km on foot. I’ve needed to be as meticulous about preparing my menu for the week as I’ve been about preparing physically. I’ve spent some time with a dietician, and between the two of us we’ve (sort of) worked out how many calories I burn per hour running with a pack on my back and added this to my basal metabolism to get some sort of idea of what I need to eat and drink.
  • Do I really want to be burdened with the extra weight of a toothbrush and toothpaste? And yes every gram does count. Or soap? If I make room for soap and shampoo I’m using up space, I could have used for food. And clothes? Do I REALLY need a fresh pair of socks each day? What if it’s cold? (unlikely in the Kalahari)



Sitting here writing this with 4 days to go before the start, I’ve covered on average 100km per week for the last 8 weeks preparing for this trip. Many of those km done with my pack on my back filled with bags of sugar and flour to simulate the weight I’ll be humping around the desert. 

russel5And not all without mishap.

For anybody interested you can follow my trials and tribulations as I attempt to finish this challenge on the KAEM Facebook page. You’re very welcome to send me messages of encouragement  and support during next week’s race to  Every evening the support crew will bring these messages to us.

And while you’re at it, also remember the greater challenges that KC sufferers face every day  and consider helping me get Kamogelo the help he needs. I’ve set up a crowd funding page to facilitate raising the money. What about a cent per km? Every cent will help.