Running for Fred

A loyal supporter has taken on the world’s largest and oldest marathon, in South Africa, to support The Foundation’s work.

Markus Schär completed the 89 kilometre Comrades Marathon, from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, on 29 May 2010. As he ran, Markus was also guiding South African athlete Francois Jacobs, who is blind.

“This is not the longest, nor the toughest, but it is certainly the cruelest race in the world – Comrades takes no prisoners,” Markus says in his blog, Run 4 Vision.

“We raised funds for The Foundation, so it can continue its important work in South Africa and around the globe. Thanks to our supporters in Australia, I could transfer over $5000 to The Foundation.”

This is not the first time the Sydney solicitor has been sponsored by friends and family to run for The Foundation. Previous events include the Marathon des Sables, in Morocco, and The North Face 100, in Australia.

In the lead-up to Comrades, Markus contacted The Foundation in Sydney for help finding a visually impaired athlete who wanted to complete Comrades in 2010.

“Francois was the first blind Ironman in South Africa in 2008 … he was looking for a guide to help him fulfill a lifelong dream of running Comrades. I saw this as a unique opportunity to help The Foundation,” said Markus.

More than 23,000 athletes from around the world signed up for Comrades in 2010. Markus and Francois faced a unique challenge. In the marathon, Markus ran slightly ahead of Francois. They were attached by a short rope, to keep Francois on track. They needed to work as a team to conquer five grueling sets of hills.

“The last 20 kilometres became a battle with the mind. Now was the time to … remember why we were out here doing this,” Markus said.

“We were running for eyes. Running to help people who are needlessly blind and are waiting for help to see again. Running for Fred.”

With only 12 hours given to finish, pressure was intense. Relieved, Markus and Francois both crossed the finish line with around 15 minutes to spare.

“Turning into Kingsmead Cricket Stadium in Durban with the noise, the colour, the music, and the emotion – this was the time to reflect and come to terms with what we both had just accomplished,” Markus said.

“I hope that our effort has helped The Foundation in South Africa to increase awareness of the big task at hand.”

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