‘Waddling’ the Two Oceans Marathon 50 times

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In the Autumn Edition of Safari News we highlighted the plight of the African penguin and their dwindling numbers.

BirdLife South Africa’s idea to entice penguins to colonise new safe areas may take a while as the idea has never been tried before. But conservationists are already preparing for the eventuality that they might have to relocate penguins manually.

Getting involved with the African Penguin Relocation Project

At the same time, long-distance runner and avid birding conservationist Dave Chamberlain partnered with BirdLife South Africa to raise funds for The African Penguin Relocation Project. He is running 50 marathons in 50 days, ending with the 50th edition of the Two Oceans Marathon taking place on April 20.

Christina Hagen, Pamela Isdell Fellow of Penguin Conservation at BirdLife South Africa says the “Two Oceans” theme fits well as we’re encouraging the penguins to move from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean.

Why the African penguins?

Apart from growing up in a birdwatching family, Chamberlain has a passion for penguins. “I have been fortunate enough to run a marathon on Antarctica, and saw many species of penguin while there. They’re just the most lovable, clumsy creatures. We are fortunate to host a species in South Africa, and it would be a tragedy to lose these very characterful birds,” he says.

The African Penguin Relocation Project.

Photo: Christina Hagen

‘Mad’ idea to run the Two Oceans route 50 times

“From a conservation perspective, I think we’d be mad to simply allow the species to disappear, without attempting to help. From a running perspective, it’s actually the one activity where humans are very close to being the best in the whole animal kingdom. Hopefully I can show people a little bit of the true potential that they possess.”

Chamberlain says despite all the running, his body is feeling good. “It takes about 10 days for the body to adapt, but once you get through the initial discomfort, it gets easier and easier,” he explains.

Strangest encounters along the route

“I’ve had a marriage proposal. That was quite strange. I’ve also had roadside posters waiting for me, made by someone anonymous. It’s a bit strange having strangers become involved in one’s life, even though you have never met them.”

Follow Dave’s journey on www.505050.org and donate any amount to contribute to penguin conservation.

Written by René de Klerk

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