Marky Warren’s 18-day walk from Johannesburg to Durban will raise funds for Joost Van Der Westhuizen’s J9 Foundation, which was formed by the rugby legend in aid of those suffering from the fatal illness like himself.
Marky started his expedition on Mandela Day, 18 July, at the Ballz Radio studio in Jozi and will hopefully be finishing at the LIV Village in Durban on 4 August, after covering 42km, the equivalent of a marathon, per day. Marky performed a similar walk as a â€œwarm up” last month in the UK, when he walked from Cardiff to London.
A week into the trek, Marky has done 253km out of his 624km and already raised just over R25,000. Ballz, his favourite SA radio station, is sponsoring him R40 per kilometre he completes, which will raise an additional R25,000, so the walk will raise at least R50,000 for charity.
â€œIt’s hard to believe I’m walking through the South Africa that people talk about, this violent country. It’s mind-blowing how friendly people are, amazing what a wave and a howzit can do. Those who have absolutely nothing in the world are normally the friendliest people you will ever meet. It’s very humbling. People are always waving at me. I walked past a township the other day, the kids were flying kites and came and asked what I was doing. They wanted to know why I was walking, why I didn’t get into the support vehicle. I told them that I was walking to Durban for charity.”
Marky has been greatly inspired on this journey and in his life by Nelson Mandela.
He said that the reason he’s undertaking the big walk is because, â€œSouth Africa needs a lot of good, it needs a lot of giving. I want to inspire people to get into the giving vibe. I want to spark something here. The way I choose to live my life is that I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart, which is the example that Mandela set for us to go out and build the South Africa we all dream of.”
Marky’s expedition is underpinned by two of his favourite Mandela quotes:
â€œIt always seems impossible until it’s done” and â€œThere is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Marky said there have been tough moments but giving up was simply not an option.
â€œApart from two vital rest days, there’s no stopping until I get to Durban. The people I’m doing it for keep me going. On Wednesday morning in fact, one of the J9 beneficiaries, Cedric Ruiters, passed away. It makes this whole thing very real in terms of why I’m doing it. The money we’re raising goes towards providing research and medication for sufferers of MND.
â€œThe last two days I have been walking on rocky dirt roads which are quite tough on your feet. Those long hard slogs on rocky roads are very testing, you don’t question why you’re doing this but you start questioning your sanity. Ask any old ballie who was in the army how much they enjoyed walking on dust roads. My dad says he knows all about that! I think I have done five men’s army service over the last few days! The slightly low moments are the painful times when my feet are aching but eventually they just go numb and I carry on.”
You can follow Marky Warren’s progress on his Twitter handle @PharSideUK or facebook page (www.facebook.com/TheLongWalkSA) and make donations to the J9 Foundation in South Africa via his website www.pharside.co.uk/donate