A barefoot Aussie runs for love

It turns out David Warner is not the only Aussie who wants to leave a mark when he visits our shores.

On Valentine’s Day, Sydney runner Nick Lawson set off from Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of the continent, to begin his long trek to Ras ben Sakka in Tunisia.

His goal? Run every day for the next year — barefoot. Ideally he will run a marathon (42km) every day but much depends on whether he’s able to get support systems in place.

His project is called Run for Love 2018 and his mission is to spread “global awareness for love” and breed enthusiasm in others to participate in causes that care.

“I’m doing it to spread a message of love and global unity,” he told the Mail & Guardian. “And I’m doing it because, quite frankly, I’m sick of all the hate, all the fear and all the terrorism. I just want to create a bit of a conversation and get people to think about loving themselves and loving each other. Ideally, I would love for one person from every country to come and join me and raise money for a different charity.”

Why barefoot? Lawson says that one day he just started running with no shoes and never looked back.

“It makes it a little more difficult, obviously, but I think it also spreads a good message in lots of parts in Africa because there are many, many people that grow up wearing no shoes and running with no shoes. It spreads a good message of equality, we’re all the same.

“It’s not every day that they see a white person running through Africa with no shoes on. It brings down those borders that have been placed between us.”

The countries he will run through are South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan, Chad, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

The runner says that a month before he was due to begin his endeavour, the support team he had in place pulled out — incresing his challenge. Now he must not only rely on the assistance of others but will have to restrict some of his running. On Wednesday, for instance, he was expected to run only 20km because he had to reserve time to hitchhike to Johannesburg.

What would he say to people who call him a crazy Aussie?

“I would understand why they say that,” he laughs. “It is quite crazy. I wouldn’t want anybody to do anything like this. I’m just doing this to inspire other people to A, love themselves, and B, help this world a little bit. It’s time to come together.”

To track Nick Lawson’s progress or support his cause, visit runforlove2018.com

Luke Feltham
Luke Feltham

Luke Feltham runs the Mail & Guardian's sports desk. He was previously the online day editor.

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