Last week Friday the AWESOME Unogwaja Team came for a big group lunch and what a fun bunch they all are! If you are yet to find out who they are, read this…
The Unogwaja challenge was initiated to follow the footsteps of Comrades legend Phil Masterton-Smith, who was affectionately known as “Unogwaja” which means the Hare in Zulu.
Phil Masterton-Smith was involved in two of the closest finishes in Comrades Marathon history, when in 1930 he narrowly lost to the great Wally Hayward. The following year in 1931, he battled against Noel Burree, and crossed the finish line meters ahead to claim Comrades Victory and become the youngest ever Comrades winner at the age of 19.
In 1933 Masterton-Smith couldn’t afford the train fare from Cape Town to run the Comrades Marathon, so he cycled over 1700kms from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg in 10 days, and on the 11th day he ran the gruelling Comrades Marathon and came in 10th position. Tragically Phil Masterton-Smith was killed in action on 5th June 1942 by a mortar bomb, defending the Gazala line during the siege of Tobruk in World War II.
This ultimate story of passion, willpower, courage and determination was mirrored by four young men, who followed in the footsteps of Phil Masterton-Smith 78 years later. Team Unogwaja succeeded in cycling 1677km’s in 10 days from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg, and then running the Ultimate Human Race on day 11. This journey came alive and the Unogwaja Team came together through Red Sock Friday (RSF), an initiative that shares its origin, like Comrades, in the aftermath of a World War, and is a global community of people who share a common passion for life and positive energy. The moment that founder of RSF, John McInroy, heard the story of Unogwaja from Dr WP van Zyl, a stranger at the time, the two knew this was a path they were going to follow.
The story behind and around the Unogwaja Challenge is one of great spirit and inspiration. To find out more about this amazing journey, check our their website. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@unogwaja).
Go well, Team!