As the days pass by and many of us are sitting in an office for the fourth consecutive day, a group of cyclists are on their 8th consecutive day of cycling from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg. When they get there on Saturday, they will rest up and then run the World’s greatest ultra marathon, the Comrades. We decided to hear how one of the Unogwaja 12 are feeling as they near the “halfway point” of this monumental biathlon. A-J Spieringshoek, a school teacher at Fairmount High School, has had an incredible journey and he took a break from the cycle to share some thoughts with us.
Jabu: After 7 days of gruelling cycling, how is your body feeling?
A-J: Its quite sore but when I get into a good rhythm, I don’t seam to feel the pain. I think my body is getting used to the constant exercise and is adjusting well.
Jabu: You are riding with some inspirational people (while being one yourself), what made you want to do Unogwaja
A-J: I wanted to challenge myself to do something courageous. I was always scared to get out of my comfort zone. I also want to raise funds for charity. Charity gives you extra emphasis to do well. I also want to inspire people to go after their dreams and goals no matter what comes their way.
Jabu: In a challenge so tough, there are bound to be some incredibly difficult moments. What has been the hardest part of the journey so far?
A-J: Its definitely been day 2. I started cramping just before lunch and started slowing down quite a lot with about 40km to go. I unfortunately had to be taken off the road because the team would not get to the destination on time.
Jabu: Many people forget that once you guys complete the cycle, there is still the epic Comrades Marathon. Have you thought about the Comrades much?
A-J: I haven’t focused my attention on it because the cycling has been so tough. But it has been in the back of my mind since we left. I must say that I am very excited about it
Jabu: On a longer journey, its always great to have someone who keeps you smiling. Who is the clown in the group, that keeps you laughing?
A-J: I would probably say Joff. He doesn’t try to make jokes all the time but his comments and sayings are always hilarious to hear, especially when we busy cycling.
Jabu: The Unogwaja is about a lot of charities too and has raised R277k so far. Why did you choose the charity that you chose?
A-J: I chose Wildlands because I’ve always had a fascination for nature and preserving our environment.
Jabu: You are going to be a huge inspiration to others, but who has been the biggest inspiration to you?
A-J: It will definitely be my Mom, Dad and Sister. We are a very close family and they have always supported me in whatever activities I do, whether it be hockey matches or coming to my high school activities. They coming to Comrades and I can’t wait to see them.
If you would like to play a part in this incredible journey, you can by helping A-J raise more money for his charity. If you SMS “Race 678” to 42030, it will donate R30 to the Wildlands Conservation Trust. Follow A-J on twitter here or follow the Unogwaja Challenge here.