Runner tackles Kalahari for Joe Slovo pupils

Gavin Shaskolsky on day 3 of last year's extreme marathon.

A Century City man will be running 250km through the Kalahari Desert to raise money for a Joe Slovo high school.

The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon is a seven-day muscle-pounding monster, known as “Big Daddy” among South African runners, and Gavin Shaskolsky will tackle it in aid of Sinenjongo High School.

This is not the first time Mr Shaskolsky has run the self-sufficiency marathon, which has set daily distances ranging from about 25km to 75km and temperatures sometimes reaching 50 degrees Celsius. Last year he raised more than R40 000 running “Big Daddy” for the Tertiary School in Business Administration (Tsiba) University.

He hopes to raise even more money for Sinenjongo with the public’s support.

More than 30 of the school’s pupils belong to Century City Athletics Club.

“We have seen that running has really helped them with their confidence, direction and passion for life,” said Mr Shaskolsky.

“This also flows directly into their studies and education. I want to contribute to my community, and the school is part of my community, as I live less than 2km from the school.”

Once housed in shipping containers, Sinenjongo moved to a new state-of-the-art building in January but it still lacks equipment and many amenities.

A leadership coach and entrepreneur, Mr Shaskolsky has run a few races – including the Comrades marathon – “for fun” and personal goals, but he enjoys raising money for education.

“I am very passionate about education, especially in South Africa. It’s a great leveller. I have witnessed people being able to rise above their circumstances due to their exposure to education such as Tsiba students, where I have been involved for over 10 years.”

Mr Shaskolsky said it took at least a year to prepare for the desert run, which starts on Thursday October 26.

“Firstly you need to have a base of fitness and experience in endurance events like Comrades and Two Oceans Ultra. I have now completed four Comrades and five Two Oceans Ultra. Then it’s important to have a clear training plan that matches the outcomes that you want to achieve.”

The runners must carry all their supplies, clothes and compulsory safety and survival equipment for the duration of the event. Overnight shelter in camps, and water, which is strictly controlled and distributed during the race, is supplied.

“People often think I am crazy to do these types of events. I think otherwise,” said Mr Shaskolsky. “I love running, I love nature and adventure and I love meeting new people. I love seeing what my mind and body can do when being pushed to their limits.”

If you would like to support Mr Shaskolsky in this year’s marathon go to

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