Prague to Africa

David Christof’s 3000km journey for safe drinking water

Ginny Contreras

Written by Ginny Contreras Published on 22.04.2013 10:06:44 (updated on 22.04.2013) Reading time: 4 minutes

David Christof, who last year ran from Prague to London in thirty days (the equivalent of one marathon per day) to raise money and awareness for clean drinking water, sets off on a new adventure today, April 22nd. This time he will be traversing 3000 km on foot and by bicycle from Prague to Morocco.

David wheeled up to our meeting point at I.P. Pavlova with his brand-new ride, a Tern Link D8 folding bicycle, specially bought for his upcoming trip. I saw firsthand how he pressed levers and manipulated the bike into a compact bundle, which he handily carried down the steps of Pražírna café. Over coffee, I began pumping him for the sweaty details of last year’s race to London.

“It went off without a hitch. No injuries; well, just a blister on my pinkie toe,” he admitted with a smile. He ended up raising $12,000—$2,000 more than his target—helping to provide an orphan school in Uganda with an onsite well. Previously, students had spent one and a half hours roundtrip to get to the nearest borehole, which was often dried-up.  

Amazing. After hoofing it 1,266 km, physically David felt better on day thirty than on day one, but mentally he was exhausted. The stress of finding accommodation every night and the pressure of updating his Facebook page and blogs to keep up the fundraising momentum weighed on his mind daily.

Even more mentally draining, he discovered, was the monotony of the road, especially the week he passed through Belgium. “The weather was cold and rainy, I was alone, and it was depressing.” But the scenery in England was lovely and he ended on a high note, meeting up with some old college buddies to watch the Olympic opening ceremony in a London pub.

This year he’s made a few adjustments, taking into account the loneliness and boredom factor. Firstly, by combining running and biking, he can cover a greater distance, which means more diverse landscape in a single day and secondly, he’ll be meeting up with a few friends at designated points in the route. These friends will boost his spirits, but more importantly, lend him a logistical hand.

Since outfitting a support team would cut into the funds he raises, David prefers going it alone. Last year, he ran pushing a running stroller full of gear, but now with a bicycle in the mix, he had to get more creative. His friends will ride his bicycle while he runs alongside, still pushing the stroller. Then, on his friendless stretches, he’ll ride his bike and attach the stroller behind like a trailer. Pretty ingenious.

David will be passing through Germany, Switzerland, France and Spain before arriving in Morocco at the end of June, a whopping 3000km. Working closely with his main sponsor, the German School in Prague, where he teaches English, he has organized thirty school visits along the way. Besides raising money and awareness for the worldwide water crisis, this year’s goal is to inspire children to be more physically active. At each stop, he’ll make a presentation and the children will be able to take a symbolic two kilometer run with him.

His own students at the German School in Prague will be following his progress on the Water is Life Facebook page and mapping his progress on the bulletin board in the lobby. All of their P.E. classes have implemented the Run with David Program where they tally their kilometers against his. The student with the most kilometers the week before the race gets to shave David’s head before his official sendoff on April 22nd.

After taking the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar, eventually arriving in Tangier, Morocco, his journey will come full circle when he flies back to Prague just in time for the end of the school year. At the moment, thinking that far down the trail seems overwhelming for David, who’s still trying to finalize the itinerary for the thirty school visits. For now, he’s only focusing on making it to Beroun on the first day, and later in the week to Plzeň.
“The key is to remember it’s a journey, not a race,” he said.    

To donate money to the cause, go to David’s official fundraising page here. This year’s funds will go towards constructing a gravity fed system to pipe water from the well directly into the same orphan school in Uganda.

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