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
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
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
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."