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What is Unogwaja?

Unogwaja is a growing legacy inspired by an incredible South African story of hope that we can all be part of.

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The Light Fund

It has always been my dream since very early on in this journey to align the special message of Unogwaja with our collective charity vision and mission. This vision can be broadly described under “education” but at its core is the willingness to support, enable and empower those people in our country who have not given up hope and who are already doing their best to make it better for themselves and the people around them, regardless of their circumstances. Anything we do must result in something tangible that will help people to help themselves. In this way those we help do not learn to rely on handouts but hopefully learn to fend and create for themselves and teach others. After all it is their resilience and perseverance that brought us to them in the first place.

The Challenge

This 10 day, 1,660km cycle from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg to take part in the Comrades Marathon on the 11th day is a journey of the heart inspired by Phil Masterton-Smith (who’s nickname was “Unogwaja” meaning hare in Zulu). In 1933, Masterton-Smith lived in Cape Town and could not afford the train fare to Pietermaritzburg for the start of the Comrades Marathon. He got on his bike and he cycled there. Today his courage and determination in the face of adversity are at the core of the Unogwaja Challenge which has become an annual journey that started in 2011 and brings together a small group of people chosen from all over the world for this special mission of hope across South Africa.

Unogwaja on Foot

On 1 May 2015 a journey on foot from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg began in conjunction with the original bicycle journey inspired by Phil Masterton-Smith. The on-foot party left 30 days prior to the Comrades Marathon and the bicycle team left with 10 days to go. They met up the day before Comrades to enter Pietermaritzburg together.

Unogwaja represents a message of hope for everyone and we want everyone to be able to part of it be it cycling, on foot or just supporting the Light Fund.

This is the start of a long and important journey, that over time can bring together the whole nation. Something we can call our own, where we can stand next to each other and be proud of what we are trying to achieve.

Red Love Train

The Red Love Train is what we became known as during the Comrades “Up Run” 2013 which was one of the toughest races in living memory with one of the highest drop out rates in history due to fierce heat and head winds. The strength and the unity of the team, and the story and mission we are all brought together by, creates the opportunity to experience a truly unique Comrades journey that goes way beyond ourselves.

Whether you are vying for top honours or running your first Comrades and trying to make the 12hour cut off, if you feel passionately about being part of the Unogwaja mission, join us. You have an important role to play.