One man running solo from the most southern to the most northern tip of Africa — a marathon a day for a year, through 24 countries, barefoot — with the aim of spreading a message of love and global unity.
A feat like this is something you would expect from a seasoned professional and less so from someone whose running career began nine months prior to the start of his trip. For Australian Nick Lawson, 27, the idea to run up the east coast of Africa barefoot wasn’t the result of an in-depth brainstorm about what he should do with his life.
“I was studying nursing and was Uber driving at the time. I went for a run one day and this [idea] just came out,” Lawson says.
On his journey — from Cape Agulhas in South Africa to Ras ben Sakka in Tunisia — he will invite people to join him. Whether it be a few hundred metres or a few days, those who venture up the east coast with him will raise awareness and funds for charities of their choosing.
Left: Lawson braving the Wild Coast. Right: Friends from the INanda Qadi Athletics Club, a development running club in Kwa-Zulu Natal, join Lawson for a morning run.
Earlier this month, while in Botswana, Lawson raised money to support the Maun Homeopathy Project, which provides free homeopathic treatment to HIV-positive community members in the town.
Lawson will take a year to complete his course, having aptly started his year on the road on Valentine’s Day. The desire to spread this message of love, Lawson explains, stems from his own journey.
“I realised at a young age that I actually don’t feel very good about who I am as a human. I want people to learn to start thinking about love. I’m not telling anyone how to love or what love is … I just want people to start thinking about love and start learning to love themselves, and love and help each other.”
Lawson also wants to use the run as a platform to highlight the disconnectedness of the global community, stemming from differing education systems, social media and history, and encourage unity.
A little help from my friends: people who have supporter Lawson along the way.
Thus far, the support Lawson has received, often from strangers, has been overwhelming.
“Growing up and my parents’ generation were always complaining about how bad the world was and it’s all going downhill and I used to believe that. And then I just flipped it on its head and thought, you know what, actually we can all change the world if we just change ourselves first and put in an effort to do something and get something started,” he said.
Though mostly fearless, Lawson is concerned for his family in Sydney who are worried about him — and his feet — as he runs through Africa. Despite this, slipping on takkies was not a likely outcome.
“When you’re running barefoot you run carefully. It keeps you in the present, instead of thinking ‘I’ve still got 40 km to go’…If I get to day 100 and I can’t run anymore I won’t run anymore. I won’t destroy my body to try and prove something. I just doing this because it feels right.”
Keep track of Lawson’s journey or send him an encouraging message by visiting ‘Run for Love 2018’ on Facebook