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Sierra Leone Marathon 2014

The Lithuanians are coming!

A Guest Blog from Kiln Sierra Leone Marathon Runner Ben Harvey in Vilnius.

 

"It didn't take much for Bart to convince me when we met in London last year. To be honest, I'd already made up my mind. A chance to see a part of West Africa. Supporting a charity doing great work for children. I was hooked. I wasn't thinking too much about the run. Why spoil the feeling?

 

My name is Ben, and Bart is one of the team running SCoSL in London. I'd been following Bart's own journey firstly in Sierra Leone, and then once he'd committed his time to work with the charity, with admiration. Of course, I wouldn't say that to his face.

 

I am a Brit who for the last 15 years has been living in Vilnius, Lithuania. So as I fly back to my wife and daughter I'm thinking: how am I going to raise any money? I'm not questioning the generosity of the Lithuanian people, but a British guy asking people to give money to Sierra Leone children felt like a hard sell. A harder one was convincing my wife that I'd come back from this in one piece. Work in progress.

 

The other challenge I faced was this model of fund-raising, i.e. sponsoring someone to run a marathon, parachute out a plane, grow a moustache. As far as I and my friends are aware, it's untested here in Lithuania. I need to explain this model. How it works. And that it's not going to fund my beer in the Clubhouse in Makeni.

 

So then I decided I should try to create a team. A Lithuanian Team. One with an identity that might appeal to people. If only I could find 2 more people - then I could call it a team.

 

My first victim was Mindaugas. He's a runner. He ran the Warsaw marathon last autumn. This will be easy! When I saw him on his return from Poland, I wasn't put off by the words "never again". "It's not about the run", I said, "it's much bigger than that." I planted the seed and he was the first to commit.

 

Next was Tomas. I'd mentioned the project over a lunch and hoped he would take the bait. Sure enough, after weeks of silence. I get the call. No questions. Just, "I'm in."

 

The magic of Facebook. Mindaugas writes a post about his 'crazy decision'. Then up pops Rytis. In India. Tell me more, Rytis says. Then, "I'm in".

 

Leo had heard about the story. He called to check - "this is crazy right?" Yes, I said. Leo replied: "Ok, good, I'm in."

 

Then there's Oleg. He made me wait. Right up until the end of December after he'd returned from a transatlantic voyage from Lanzarote to Antigua. He'd said: "Let me think about it, I may come back a different person after this voyage". As soon as he got back, he called me. "Ben, it's urgent! Register me!"

 

So today we are a team of six. We've got the t-shirts and tomorrow we pay for our flights. Non-refundable. There's no turning back.

 

Over the next few weeks and months I'll introduce you to each of the guys some more and let you know how we're doing with our training and fund-raising. I can honestly say that with this bunch of guys I have high hopes for an amazing adventure. It's already started.

 

As I look out of my window now and watch the snow continue to fall. I check the outside thermometer. Minus 5C. This really is crazy. But then, it's not about the run."

 

 

 

2 Comments:

Jimmy Bruzon said...
Ben and team, congratulations on joining this crazy adventure of a trip. It really is a fantastic cause. Brilliant catchphrase... "Its not about the run" !! We are getting a group of people from Gibraltar (Gibraltarians) together to go to Makeni on the 9th June - see ya there !! Good luck training in the snow.... it will make the end result all the sweeter ;O) Step by step you are making a real difference to the children of Sierra Leone "its not about the run" love it !!
January 22, 2012 08:01
Ben and Lithuanian guys we know not (but we know Ben and that, quite frankly is enough for us!) - you are all doing a special thing! We are in equal measure awed and inspired - and whilst we unerstand it's not about the run - that bit makes you all somewhere on the mad scale - the charity is a definitely a good cause. All the best of luck!
March 27, 2012 21:03

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