Kirsten Wilkins

Age: 40
From: Cape Town, South Africa

This is not an event. And we are not event organisers

I view Unogwaja as the facilitator of a self-powered journey.

The culmination of the physical preparation, financial fundraising and numerous conversations moving people to a place of understanding and support are where the real work lies. It’s bound to be an incredibly demanding end celebration, but those 11 days of courage are just that, a facilitated celebration of very determined efforts before we set off on day one.

I really appreciate the first day bicycle ride set off where others can join in. It underscores the very collaborative and transversal effort required get to the startline and is indeed an amazing picture of the collaboration required to overcome societal hardships more generally.

How do you think you will deal with adversity or things that don’t meet with your expectations?

There are quite a few lessons to be shared here, most of which I have had the pleasure of learning the hard way! I try to remember to the following:
1. Good planning: I really appreciate preparedness and good planning. We can’t predict exactly how projects and undertakings are going to unfold, but when you need that proverbial piece of duct tape, its helpful to have that close at hand. The physical planning that goes into Unogwaja is magnificent, understanding distances, timing, eating well, full water bottles etc, this really matters and it’s a solid foundation from which to deal with;

2. Understanding externalities: Being mindful of the possibilities removes the element of surprise. A headwind on a long bike day is a good example. I think it’s important to communicate possible challenges, consider and accept them before emotions set in. We cannot be in control of everything, so when the unexpected happens, we have a mental toolbox of sorts, and can be better prepared to push through.

3. Grasping opportunity: The unexpected can quite often be very positive! I enjoy ferreting out opportunity in adversity and seeing how we can disrupt our thinking and see the light in the darkness. When I ride for example, I always carry an extra tube and snack and almost always find folks who have punctured and need roadside bike assistance. 9 times out of 10 it’s a chance to help someone learn some bike maintenance skills too, which leaves them happy for having stopped rather than upset because of wrestling a tube and hating bicycles as a result. Engineered serendipity.

4. Unlocking and encouraging the strengths of others in that time: I don’t have all the skills required in times of hardship, and I try to encourage those that do, to bring them to the fore when needed. If its humor, a calm encouragement or simple muscle, it’s helpful to invite others to shine in their area of strength when it’s tough. I enjoy doing that!

5. Sense of humor: The glue that holds it all together! I love to see people smile and enjoy the momentary lightness it brings to the darkest of places. So many endurance events I have been in force me to dig so very very deep in order to persevere. Smiles and laughs are so very necessary here. Providing them is my joy.

Why I am ready for The Unogwaja Challenege 2017:

My Unogwaja physical training schedule is well on track!

Before applying, I really needed to explore longer distance running and interrogate my own abilities in this area. I’ve been so caught up in the pure joy of bicycling that focusing on running was previously an after thought. A strange thing happened. I grew to love running and that has been a real gift. I’m as excited about Comrades as the cycling portion of Unogwaja, which is just thrilling and a lovely development for me.

That said, I have yet to run a full marathon and so, with a sober view and good advice have plotted out a consistent and tempered schedule of running and bike events for the next few months in order to ensure I qualify and am ready. My mental ability in physical adversity is also something I’ve been focusing on and will be required in October when I compete in the Tour of Ara. This 800km 6 day stage road/gravel race is grueling and will be an excellent conditioning physically and mentally. I look forward to partnering with other Unogwaja to learn and train more efficiently over the next few months.

Donations by Kirsten Wilkins in 2017

Date Donated By Amount Twitter Account Comment
13 Sep 2016 Anonymous R100 -
11 Oct 2016Eric BuddR1436@ericmbudd
07 Dec 2016R1000Application Donation
29 Jan 2017Rob LeathernR1000Robleathern Good luck we love you!!!!
03 Feb 2017Mike KlinkR250mikeklinkctWell wishes Kirsten & Team Unogwaja
08 Feb 2017Daniel & SindisoR1000We're with you!
09 Feb 2017DeeR1000
14 Feb 2017Anton GroenewaldR500
23 Feb 2017Keith BuhrR500Well done Kirsten!! So proud of your challenge you setting yourself for such a great cause.
28 Feb 2017Andre FelixR250
09 Mar 2017Butler's PizzaR7000butlerspizzaSAViva Kirsten! Viva Unogwaja!
29 Mar 2017 Anonymous R4299 - (1660x2)+(89x11) *
09 Apr 2017Rob LeathernR500robleathern
01 May 2017Rockets DC 2016R2200
01 May 2017 Anonymous R270 -
02 May 2017Butler's PizzaR14000
11 May 2017R500
12 May 2017 Anonymous R650 -
21 May 2017Claudia ChennellsR200@contestedspacesHello Kirsten, Going to ride again and hope not to crash on the railway line. See you on Thursday!
24 May 2017Paul KrynauwR300
24 May 2017 Anonymous R3045 - Hamba kakuhle Kirsten, Hamba kakuhle Unogwaja
01 Jun 2017WiseyR420A donation from an incredible family. This is nearly R5,000 split evenly between you all. It is important to split this amount evenly between each of you, because each of you as a team have inspired this donation. The family donating are Rich and Kylie and their two daughters from Australia, they have avidly followed the story of Unogwaja over the last three years and given over R25,000 to date. It is a testament to Unogwaja 2017's ability to inspire. Keep charging legends!!
12 Jun 2017R5000Bike Art Auction