Applications Now Open For 2020 – Our 10th Anniversary

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The 10th anniversary of the Unogwaja Challenge marks the rebirth of the journey under the Community Chest umbrella and sees exciting changes to the format of the 2020 cycle to Comrades Marathon to support Education, Health, Income Generation and Community Development.   

Community Chest, which has played a key role in supporting the Unogwaja Challenge since its inception in 2011, has taken over the running of the journey, in support of their key focus areas of Education, Health, Income Generation and Community Development in South Africa.  

The Community Chest Unogwaja Challenge is a special journey that follows in the footsteps of the youngest winner of the Comrades Marathon, Phil Masterton-Smith, who was affectionately known as ‘Unogwaja’ or hare. In 1933 he didn’t have the train fare to get from Cape Town to Comrades and so cycled over 1700km to get there. This action to overcome adversity is the message that Unogwaja wants to send to South Africa and the world – journey of hope in which one just needs to follow one’s heart.  

Going forward the CEO of Community Chest, Lorenzo Davids, wholeheartedly believes that the Challenge is a platform to fulfill the objectives set out by Community Chest’s vision of a country where all individuals and families reach their full human potential through access to basic human rights. 

“Our shared philosophies of ‘community’ and ‘better together’ are fully aligned and there is a great belief in what we can achieve together. We look forward to seeing this put into action through the 10th anniversary event in 2020, which we fully support,” concludes Davids.  

Over the past nine years the Challenge has attracted active citizens from South Africa and countries like Brazil, Ireland and Australia, who have taken part in what was a 10-day team ride to Comrades, followed by running the Comrades Marathon on the eleventh day. In the process these courageous individuals, along with volunteer support crew, have raised over R6-million for selected beneficiaries and showed that together we can create lasting change.  

A New Format For The Community Chest Unogwaja Challenge 

Applications for the 2020 Challenge open on 1 August 2019 via and a team of up to 20 Unogwaja, along with crew, will be announced in the first week of September. 

 “The working committee saw the merger as the perfect opportunity to bring fresh energy to the journey and make it one that is more inclusive for all South Africans,” according to 2013 Unogwaja, Thamar Houlistonthe new 2020 project manager. 

 The most significant change will be a bigger team of 20 or more ridersfrom the previous 12.  “We are setting our sights on 20 riders as a benchmark and a first step in growing the Challenge even more in years to come. We hope to see real camaraderie out on the road. We want a team that works together to paint the road to Comrades with hope and positivity, inspiring by example.”  

“We have also cut the application fee by more than half in order to make sure that the Challenge is accessible to more South Africans. We felt that it was a barrier to entry and we didn’t need all the ‘frills’ that applicants became accustomed to. We want to take the Challenge back to its roots. The new format means that each Unogwaja needs to be much more self-sufficient and brings in an element of adventure, allowing for a beautiful story of team spirit that we cannot wait to see unfold, continues Houliston.  

Other changes to the Challenge include two extra days that have been added to the ride in order to allow Unogwaja to fully immerse themselves in the experience and communities they ride through. It also means that day one of the journey will start with a fundraiser where tickets will be sold to cycle to Stellenbosch with the team and brunch afterwards. The team will leave from here on day two, making it more manageable for first timers. Another exciting addition is a stopover at the BB Mdedle School in the Eastern Cape that is a light in this deep rural community. It will be an experience that no Unogwaja will forget!  

Team members and crew will have to commit to raise funds from September 2019 to June 2020, based on their means and will have to set targets with the help of the working committee. The funds will be channeled to the Challenge’s official beneficiary in Langa, which has been encouraged to become an NGO in their own right in order to facilitate a more transparent process. Two other beneficiaries along the Unogwaja route have also been earmarked to go through a due diligence process in order to receive support from the Community Chest Unogwaja 

There will be a number of opportunities for applicants to raise funds including the Community Chest Golf Day in November and Twilight Run in December. Unogwaja is also one of the charities for this year’s Sanlam Cape Town Marathon and all those interested in supporting our educational projects are encouraged to get in touch.  

For more information on the Community Chest Unogwaja Challenge 2020 please email  

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