The Desert Mentor Challenge

You are crazy!

It was the year 2012 and I was preparing to run one of the toughest races in the world: a 250km self-sufficiency run in the desert. However, it wasn’t the distance or harsh climate that caused the above outcry. The truth was that I had never done a marathon before (let alone an ultra-marathon),  wasn’t a runner and, most importantly, only had 3 months to prepare.

I asked some of my best friends to help me find sponsorship but none were forthcoming. My brother in-law showed his support by starting a betting pool as to what day I’ll fall out of this race. And as for my athletic sport-scientist colleague, she advised that it was a bad idea from the start. I seemed to have lost all sense of my own self-preservation.

However, what people didn’t know was that this run was a very calculated decision for me. As a facilitator, teaching people about their potential and how we are far more capable of doing the unimaginable than what we think, I was amped up to test the theory. I fully understood that if I could get my vision and self-talk right, I could programme my body to follow my mind. This was hardcore neurology, not some airy fairy stuff.

Yet when we are describing the future as if it all-ready exists, it sounds like lunacy to those who can only see what is around them; their current reality. So I ran the race, finished strong and made my point! Having a strong vision may sound crazy, but it is not…it is calculated and intentional.

It is the year 2015 is here and I am at it again. I have a point to prove. This time it is about showing the result of effective mentoring. Not long ago I met a Xhosa man who had buried dreams of running the Comrades. Like so many of us,  he’d given up and moved on. He’s unfit, smokes and is not build like a rugby player…not exactly long distance material.

We agreed to step into a mentor-mentee relationship to help him achieve something far greater than the Comrades…a 250km run in the desert, and yes, we have less than 3 months to prepare. This is what Mr. Velapi had to share on the start of his journey:

When Cobus challenged me on the desert run,  I took the challenge boldly and without hesitation: “Yes, I’ll do it”. When I sat down to really think it over however, the disbelief and doubt started to creep in. Had I lost my mind? On the one hand I held the belief that I possessed the potential to run and finish this race, on the other…I could’t even sprint across a rugby field without feeling like I was having a heart attack. As crazy as the idea was though, I knew I was prepared to see it though.

A mentor is one that has gone ahead, thus I know I can take Mr. Velapi on this journey. Yes, he will be the first Xhosa man to ever run this race and yes, we have had our fist rounds of “you guys are crazy and ridiculous“. We have 77 days to go and are super excited! To follow our journey together on this epic adventure, I’ll be writing letters to Mr. Velapi and post them on my blog: http://cobusoosthuizen7.blogspot.com/

Please feel free to chip in, comment and ask!

by Cobus Osthuizen & Lumko Velapi

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