When the clock strikes midnight on the 22nd of January I (Ross Edgley) will step foot on Silverstone race circuit ― with whey protein shake in hand ― and attempt to pull a 1,400kg MINI Countryman 26.2 miles in an event the media is calling, “The World’s Strongest Marathon”. Why? The short answer is to raise money and awareness for United Through Sport.
But the actual answer perhaps needs more elaboration on. Which is why I’ve put pen to paper to write this Blog post that begins with a brief back-story.
It was morning, Aug. 1, 2002, on the sun-bleached African plains of Namibia.
I’m 21 and have been tasked with documenting the life of the San Bushmen. A hunter-gatherer civilization who were no doubt wondering what the strange Englishmen was doing in their village. If I’m honest I don’t blame them either. I was completely out of my depth.
That’s because bright eyed and straight out of university I’d become this odd writer-athlete hybrid that had developed a reputation for accepting even the weirdest of assignments. Which is why I find myself emerging from a mud hut wearing nothing but a smile, homemade flip-flops and a traditional ‘tribal thong’ that barely covers my modesty.
Eager to earn their acceptance it worked. Never before had my bare buttocks received such rapturous applause as I was invited to sit among the men of the tribe.
However my victory was short lived. Handicapped by the language barrier it seemed once the novelty of my semi-displayed cheeks had worn off there was very little else to do. Without any means of communicating I had no way of developing rapport with my hosts.
Needless to say I wasn’t doing a great job as a writer or a San Bushmen.
What seemed like hours of silence passed until eventually I was saved by a moment of inspiration. I remembered the immortal words of Sebastian Coe ― former Olympic Gold Medallist ― that were engraved on a giant plaque in my University library.
“Sport is a universal language; building more bridges between people than anything else”
Politely excusing myself from the group I returned to the hut. Frantically searched for the semi-inflated football I’d kept in my luggage. Then returned to nervously present it to the tribe. Not a word was spoken. It didn’t need to be. We marked out some goals, picked teams and an impromptu match ensued.
Mr. Coe was right. For the rest of the week ― and for the rest of the life ― when in doubt I whipped out a ball, marked out a pitch and played sport. It’s never failed me. In the words of the Olympic Games founder Pierre Baron de Coubertin “The Olympic Spirit is neither the property of one race nor of one age.”
But it was experiences like this that taught me everyone loved sport. Everyone loved playing it. Everyone loved watching it. Everyone understood the value of it. Sport is an unwritten language understood by all.
Which is why I truly believe the work of United Through Sport is of profound importance! Which (coming back to the initial reason for this article) is why I decided to:
- Create a Virgin Money Fundraising Page
- Plan an insane stunt to capture people’s attention
- Use my small presence in the media to promote it
If at the end of the above ‘to do list’ myself and THE PROTEIN WORKS™ raise enough money and awareness for charity I will consider every blister, rope burn and painful step taken not in vain.