When ultra-distance runner Simon Gear and his running partners, Paula Quinsee and Eric Wiebols, set out to complete nine marathons, in nine provinces in nine weeks as part of the 9in9in9 venture to raise money for Starfish Greathearts Foundation, Avis will be with them every step of the way – providing much-needed transport and logistical support.
9in9in9 is aimed at creating awareness and support for the Starfish Greathearts Foundation, an international development charity that brings life, hope and opportunity to orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa. The 9in9in9 venture will tie in specifically with the organisation’s 2012 Comrades fundraising campaign.
The three runners set off with their first run – the 42km Ottosdal marathon in the North West province – with the ambitious goal of raising R1-million for Starfish. The following nine weeks will see them testing their endurance in marathons in the Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Northern and Western Cape, and finally Mpumalanga.
A committed Greathearts ambassador, Gear says the project would not have been possible without the generous support of Avis. “This is a fantastic opportunity for me to bring together my passion for Greathearts and realising a long-time dream to run nine marathons, in nine provinces over a nine-week period,” he says.
The three runners have spent quite some time preparing for this immense challenge. “We feel well prepared, excited and obviously quite nervous, but we are very motivated by the goal we have set out to achieve,” he says.
Avis chief executive, Wayne Duvenage, says Avis is delighted to support Simon Gear and his team in this worthy cause. “We look forward to supporting all three runners in their efforts to raise funds for the Starfish Greathearts Foundation,” he says.
For more information, visit the Greathearts Facebook page and find out how you can support this incredible initiative, follow the team’s progress and receive blog updates: http://www.facebook.com/starfishcharity
The 9in9in9 races dates include:
28 and 29 January 2012 – Ottosdale (Ottosdale, North West)
4 and 5 February 2012 – Sasol (Sasolburg, Free State)
11 and 12 February 2012 – Pick n Pay (Johannesburg, Gauteng)
18 and 19 February 2012 – Battlefields (Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal)
25 and 26 February 2012 – Buffs (East London, Eastern Cape)
3 and 4 March 2012 – Marakele (Marakele, Limpopo)
10 and 11 March 2012 – Diamant (Kimberley, Northern Cape)
17 and 18 March 2012 – Weskus (Langebaan, Western Cape)
24 and 25 March 2012 – Standerton/Witbank (Mpumalanga)
Paula Quinsee started running in 2006 with a dream to run the Comrades Marathon. This came and went but the running bug had kicked in and as they say ‘the rest is history’. Paula has since completed 4 Comrades and Two Oceans Marathons as well as numerous other races. Over the past 5 years, she has managed to run a few sub 3hr marathons, Silver Comrades (2009 - 13th lady/10th SA lady), 15th at Two Oceans (2010 - 11th SA lady) and won the Long Tom Marathon and Knysna Lagoon to Bay 21km. She also represented Gauteng at the SA Marathon Champs in February 2011 and recently completed the Wildcoast Wild run - 112kms/3days. The ‘9in9in9 Challenge’ is the perfect platform to give something back to the running community by raising funds for the Starfish Greathearts Foundation. She will also be undertaking this challenge on a personal level by running in aid of her sister and a very dear running friend who both have forms of cancer.
Follow Paula's progress on Twitter: @ati2ude
Simon Gear joined the SABC as a senior consulting climatologist in 1999 and since then has provided expert comment on climate matters on most of South Africa’s public and private radio stations, as well as producing and presenting weather reports for all of the SABC’s domestic and international television channels. He was also responsible for the training and skills upgrading of all the weather personnel at the SABC. In 2011 he chose to focus his television efforts as anchor of South Africa’s premier environmental show, 50|50. In addition to his TV work, Simon provides weather and science coverage for Primedia. Simon is a best-selling author and also writes a wide range of columns. In his spare time, Simon loves road running, with over 20 marathons, 6 Two Oceans and 4 Comrades under his belt. He has his Private Pilot’s Licence but has temporarily given up flying while his kids are still young. He is married to Sarah and father of two young children, Adam and Amy
Follow Simon's progress on Twitter: @SimonGear