“This 10 day cycle from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg to run the Comrades Marathon on day 11 is a journey of the heart inspired by the life of Phil Masterton-Smith who in 1933 couldn’t afford the train fare from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg so he cycled up instead and finished 10th in the race. He died in World War Two in 1942. His nickname was “Unogwaja” meaning hare in Zulu and his legacy lives on in the Unogwaja Challenge. Wherever you go, go with your heart”
– John McInroy
Phil Masterton-Smith was involved in two of the closest finishes in Comrades Marathon history, when in 1930 he narrowly lost to the great Wally Hayward. The following year in 1931, he battled against Noel Burree and became the youngest ever Comrades winner at the age of 19.
This ultimate story of passion, willpower, courage and determination, was mirrored by four young men who followed in the footsteps of Phil Masterton-Smith 78 years later. In 2011 Team Unogwaja cycled 1677km’s in 10 days from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg and then ran the Ultimate Human Race (Comrades Marathon) on day 11.
We at All Fuels – Kwazulu Natal South Marketer have joined the Caltex Eastern Cape Marketer in the sponsorship of Unogwaja. In addition to funding, the Caltex sites along the Unogwaja route will be the rest points for the Teams. Watch the video – courtesy Caltex Eastern Cape Marketer:
This journey came alive and the Unogwaja Team came together through Red Sock Friday (RSF), an initiative that shares its origin, like Comrades, in the aftermath of a World War and is a global community of people who share a common passion for life and positive energy.
“The cycle challenge will remain at the heart of Unogwaja but we wanted to open the journey to all. Unogwaja on foot, means anybody can take part in the journey for as long or short a distance as they can. The Unogwaja is not just about a cycle or a run, but is a journey of hope that we want as many to be able to take part in as possible and call their own,” says John McInroy, founder of Unogwaja.
In 2013, McInroy recalls cycling past a young boy just outside Lady Frere who came running to the side of the road with his hand in the air, shouting “Unogwaja! Unogwaja!” This year he hopes that boy and many others across the approximately 1,650 km route will physically form part of the journey.
“This year is the first step in establishing this journey within our Country that we hope will grow over time into something that inspires our Nation to come together,” concludes McInroy.
The Unogwaja Challenge team, which consist of 11 cyclists, will pedal off from the Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel in Cape Town on Thursday 21 May at 04:00am.
On 30 May the two teams will unite in Pietermaritzburg and enter the city together as one. The following day they aim to take on the Comrades Marathon together.
As of today, Unogwaja’s fundraising has just surpassed the R830,000 mark. It is hoped that by the end of this campaign Unogwaja will have collectively raised over R2million for the Unogwaja Light Fund which will be used to support projects focused on empowerment and not dependency.
Find out more about the Unogwaja Light Fund