Unogwaja Challenge Team 2019 – active citizens needed!

Apply to join us for the 9th journey in our history

Dates: Thursday 30 May – Sunday 9 June 2019 (Comrades Day)

Message to new applicants from John McInroy, Founder of Unogwaja 

“This is not an event. This is a team and movement you choose to step up for and offer yourself towards. Once you make that decision it is no longer you and us. It is we. We will celebrate and face adversity together. The strength of this movement and the example we set, depends on your willingness to embrace this. And not just for the incredible, inspiring, grueling 11 day journey across South Africa. An Unogwaja is defined by his or her actions long after the cameras have been switched off and the dirt from your running shoes after Comrades has disappeared. That way we will ensure the legacy of Unogwaja, your legacy, will live on and hopefully continue to grow. Forever.”

2019 Application information

We would not recommend applying to take part unless you have a deep understanding on what Unogwaja is all about. Chatting with Unogwaja Alumni and watching all previous videos is a good starting point!

Formal Entry Requirements

  • A R1,000 donation to The Unogwaja Charitable Trust must be submitted with your application. Failure to do so will deem your application incomplete. Successful applicants will have this added to their fundraising totals.
  • Upon invitation to join Unogwaja 2019, successful applicants will be asked to contribute a R25,000 entry fee per person.
    • Note 1: This includes all team kit, food, lodging, transport, safety, physio, all non-personal expenses from start to finish. Please note it EXCLUDES transport to Cape Town and back from Durban.
    • Note 2: This amount is NON REFUNDABLE except under exceptional circumstances.
    • Note 3: The decision of Unogwaja is final.
  • Each Unogwaja team member will be given their own personal fundraising target according to their circumstances (minimum fundraising requirement is R50,000, which is over and above the R25,000 entry fee). We hope that everyone will make the most of their own individual potential.

Application/selection process & key dates

  • Wednesday 04 July 2018: Applications Open
  • Friday 03 August 2018: Applications Close
  • After an initial application screening process, a short-list of applicants will be interviewed via Skype by a member of the Unogwaja Alumni/ Selection Panel.
  • Friday 07 September 2018: Team Unogwaja 2019 Announced
  • Friday 28 September 2018: R25,000 entry fee paid (NON REFUNDABLE)
  • Thursday 31 January 2019: R25,000 fundraising target reached per Unogwaja.
  • Friday 26 April 2019: R50,000 fundraising target reached per Unogwaja.
  • Wednesday 01 May 2019: Submit your Comrades Marathon qualifier information to the race organisers. Note that this is an important aspect of the Unogwaja journey, and if you don’t qualify for the race, you will forfeit your Unogwaja entry.

Guidelines for Full Unogwaja Challenge Applications – PLEASE READ CAREFULLY & get in touch if anything is unclear.

  • Physical Competence
    • Physical competence (and evidence thereof) is essential to ensure not only your safety, but that of the entire group.
      • You must be able to maintain a 20 – 25km/h average cycling speed for approximately 200km per day, and
      • You must have the running competency to qualify for the Comrades Marathon. Failure to qualify for the Comrades will deem you unfit for the Unogwaja Challenge – you will forfeit your entry (no refund) and you will not be able to join the 2019 Challenge.
    • Without the requisite physical competence we would encourage different ways to contribute (for example running the Comrades as part of the team through the Red Love Train as a first step) until you are ready to embark on this journey and really be able to do it and yourself justice.
  • Entry Fee
    • R25,000
    • Note: This is highly subsidised and dependent on current sponsorship. Therefore should any sponsorship fall away we may to work out as a team how to manage this.
  • Financial Plan
    • We recognise that people’s circumstances differ and we do not want anybody to feel they cannot take part because of financial pressures. As part of the application process anybody who feels they may need assistance will be able to discuss this with us.
    • Note: We will also assess your personal circumstances as we do not want people going into debt or risking financial position to take part. It is essential you are open with us about this as it is not fair on anyone if you are suffering in your personal circumstances on top of the pressures and expectations of being part of Unogwaja.
  • Fundraising Plan
    • Each team member will be asked to present a fundraising plan that will enable you to realistically reach your own fundraising target agreed with us. This can differ greatly from person to person and will agree minimum fundraising commitments with each person.
    • We have a fundraising guideline booklet that will be shared with all successful applicants to assist in reaching fundraising targets. This was compiled by Unogwaja Alumni through their personal experiences.
    • Note 1: You are NOT asking people to sponsor you for cycling across the country and doing the Comrades, this is your privilege. You are asking people to support education and empowerment in our country through The Unogwaja Charitable Trust, what it stands for and the impact their investment will have.
  • Mentors
    • We will allocate “mentors” (Alumni) to each Unogwaja for support throughout your journey. This will be someone who has been through what you are going through and can support you every step of the way. Much like our philosophy at the Trust, this person will not be doing the hard graft for you but will be able to guide you and give you a support base to lean on regarding physical prep and fundraising in particular, plus the many other ups and downs you may encounter along the way.
  • Successful applicants will need the following:-
    • Full Medical/ Travel Insurance and clear procedure in case of emergency.
    • Sign indemnities that they enter at “their own risk”
    • Arrange suitable travel arrangements (including visas where applicable) to and from the Challenge. Arrival: Tuesday 28 May 2019 by 6pm at Southern Sun Waterfront, Cape Town. (some people may be put up at CT team members homes for this night).
      Depart: Monday 10th June late morning after team closing function at Elangeni Hotel, Durban.
    • Suitable bike for the journey
    • Comrades Qualification (as per normal CMA rules; no special dispensation or assistance.)



Support Crew

There is nothing more powerful than the heart of a volunteer and Unogwaja has been a first-hand example of this magic. The support crew selection is equally as important, if not more important than the Unogwajas themselves.

It is not about 12 Unogwajas or the support crew, it is about one group of people working towards the same goal together, and this also goes beyond the event itself.

Each support crew member will be asked to commit to a suitable personal contribution towards the Unogwaja Charitable Trust based on their circumstance.

Skills that are essential to our journey:

  • Physio
  • Medics
  • Bike mechanic
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Social media specialist/ blogger/media liaison
  • Driving for long periods at slow pace! (full licence essential)
  • Logistics/ Behind the scenes logistics  – set up base camp ahead of arrival each day

While skill is a key factor in selecting the support crew, a huge heart and enthusiasm to be part of the journey and the overall mission – plus a proven track record of working under pressure in diverse teams, showing initiative and take instructions and implement when needed – are essential characteristics.


Unogwaja Challenge reserves the right to review team participation at any stage & our decision is final.

Final Message

This journey is about following your heart and remember there is no such thing as failure if you do. Well done to everyone brave enough to put it out there and regardless of this particular outcome a journey of a lifetime awaits.

 “Wherever you go, go with your heart”

“A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step”