“Somehow, someway, by multiple hook and many crooks I made it to the finish at Augrabies,” Gavin Shaskolsky wrote in his final blog entry about the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM).
He took on the 250km monster race spanning seven days to raise funds for Sinenjongo High School (“Runner tackles Kalahari for Joe Slovo pupils,” Tabletalk, October 11).
No stranger to the KAEM, the Century City runner ran the race last year as well but admits that this time it took a lot more from a “psychological perspective”.
“My level of fatigue was quite high, and, at times, I had to find it within myself to do even 1km,” Mr Shaskolsky told Tabletalk.
He was ready to drop out of the race by day three, he says, but was saved by the medics who gave him tablets to boost his energy levels and monitored him closely each day.
His race blog told of his mental battles along the way, and he wrote about the little things that helped him over his obstacles and inched him closer to the finish line.
Spotting a gemsbok on day four came at a “critical time” as his body was taking a pounding from the blistering sun.
“As if summoned, it ran past, sniffed the dry desert air and seemed to nod encouragingly. Well, at least that’s what I kept telling myself, and it really helped,” he wrote.
The day-six blog entry, titled “Tougherer than tough day out”, speaks about his nine-hour battle to mostly walk 46km.
He had been flat on his back “cooling his core” when a Frenchman named Najib came along and picked him up.
“We walked side by side for hours, speaking little yet being there for each other. By the end, we were sapped of energy, but we made it to camp.”
His final blog entry on day seven says the KEAM is a reminder that we can all achieve incredible feats but only if we have all the “visible and invisible support to do it”.
“At the deepest points of suffering, beyond willpower, on the edge of our known abilities, lies a stillness of spirit, a silent presence that waits for us to give in, and then, when we least expect it, it gathers us up under its wings, flies us beyond this moment and lifts us to heights we previously thought impossible.
“We can call this god, nature, great spirit – whatever we choose, really – but there is no denying its constant presence and readiness to serve us if we just surrender.”
He credits the camp and check-point volunteers, the medics, the organisers, fellow runners, family, friends, greater force than us and Bob Marley for helping him through.
So far, Mr Shaskolsky has raised almost R23 000 for Sinenjongo High School through the KAEM. He will be doing an email drive and hopes it will push the amount up to R30 000.
His target is to raise R50 000 to get the school fitted with, among other things, a sound system for the hall, white boards for the classrooms, digital projectors, science equipment and more.