Two Oceans runner Dave gets his kicks (for the 50th time) on Route 56
"I’m just a runner." Dave Chamberlain shrugged his shoulders. "Some people get up and go to work. I get up and run."
But Chamberlain is more than just a runner. He is an ultramarathon runner who, come Saturday, will complete his 50th ultramarathon in as many days.
The feat is a challenge he has set himself to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 56km Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town.
Every day for the last month and a half, Chamberlain has woken at 4.30am and headed to the Two Oceans’ starting line in Newlands to begin what he calls Route 56.
Along the way he stops to buy snacks, and by around 1pm he reaches the University of Cape Town sports field where the race finishes.
"Every morning I tell myself, ‘Just get to the start. That’s all you have to do – get to the start’," Chamberlain said. Once there, running was the easy part."
Chamberlain is running for more than simply the accomplishment. His 50/50/50 project is a fundraiser for BirdLife South Africa, a Cape Town-based non-profit organisation that is hoping its efforts can save the African penguin.
So far, Chamberlain has raised more than R100,000 for a project that aims to create new African penguin colonies in the Indian Ocean, and relocate penguins from the Atlantic Ocean where reduced fish stocks are threatening their food supplies.
Every day he updates his website with a photo from that day’s run and cumulative stats.
Along the way he has been joined by fellow runners just keeping him company, and on one remarkable occasion he received a marriage proposal. But he’s not talking about that.
He has helped a few drivers to push-start their cars; he’s been there to see pods of whales in False Bay; and his heart has soared at the sight of primary school children who have come out to cheer him on his way.
But an ultramarathon a day hasn’t been easy on him, he concedes. While the running has not been difficult physically, it has taken a toll on him psychologically.
"Every day I run past a city, but I can’t participate in it," he explains. "There are concerts going on, but I can’t stop for them. There are people that want to meet for dinner dates, but I’m in bed by 7. The running has become all-encompassing."
And yet, when asked what he would do on Sunday, the first day after the challenge, Chamberlain smiled and replied: "Maybe I’ll do number 51."
Although the project will officially be over, Chamberlain sees no reason to stop completing his daily ultramarathons, so long as his body is up for it and it’s bringing awareness to BirdLife’s mission.
"Why not keep going?" he said. "I’m feeling strong. Let’s keep going!"
Todd Pengelly is on a SIT Study Abroad Program with Round Earth Media.