Swim-Run-Swim to get a Lifeboat

880 km coast to coast solo run in the Pyrenees to fundraise a lifeboat for Mozambique
UN Goals 4 8 17

Adventures can be set up and executed in a limited time frame.

In 2017 Christian had a three months window to conceive, plan, and execute anadventure with a nautical theme and a charity aspect. Due to the tight time frame, he soon realised that it would have to be an adventure that did not require a lot of equipment and, since no one he knew could spare time to come along at such short notice, he would have to do it alone.

After a bit of brainstorming and phoning around the answer was quite simple: Run the length of the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean following the GR10 Trail in order to raise funds for AtlanticPacific, a charity started by UWC Atlantic alumni Robin Jenkins, with the purpose of providing lifeboats where there are none. As Christian was a surf-lifesaving lifeguard at UWC Atlantic, and not particularly fond of running, the run had to start and finish with a token 200m swim to make it more palatable, hence Swim-Run-Swim to get a Lifeboat was born.

Christian set off from Hendaye on the Atlantic Coast with a backpack weighing 5kg, sleeping and eating in guesthouses along the way. On arrival in Banyuls-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean coast 35 days later the backpack still weighted 5kg and Christian a lot less. In total he ran 880km with 59km elevation. Apart from three days of standing knee deep in an ice cold river to dull the pain of his shin splints, he ran every day covering on average 27.5km and 1.9km elevation per day.

The target was to raise £10,750 for AtlanticPacific to build a lifeboat to be deployed in Mozambique, but on arrival in Banyuls-sur-Mer the target had not been fully reached, so Christian flew to Corsica and continued running 1/3 of the gruelling GR20, until the fundraising target had been achieved. In the end he raised £13,069, surpassing the target by 22%. In total more than 100 people made donations, including many Chinese.

Sadly a good friend of Christian’s passed away whilst he was on the trail. In June 1989 Danish diplomat Mogens Poulsen personally drove through the chaotic streets of Beijing to evacuate Christian from Beijing University following the 1989 Tiananmen Incident, so Mogens was a bit of a lifesaver. He also worked with development aid in Africa for many years and had a holiday home in Egypt. Christian has asked Mogens’ widow Kirsten whether she’d allow for the boat to be named “Mogens” and she has agreed. So in honour of Mogens’ memory “Mogens” will soon be saving lives in Africa.

Mogens has yet to be built at UWC Atlantic and more funds are needed in order to be able to provide a training infrastructure on the ground in Mozambique, so the project is still on-going and donations are welcome. You can donate here.

The Facebook page for the project is Swim-Run-Swim to get a Lifeboat, in case you would like to follow it and see Mogens through all the way to Mozambique.

The total distance covered from Hendaye to Banyuls-sur-Mer was 880km with 59km of elevation.

It took Christian 35 days to complete the run. The run itself took 31 days. Injury time was 3 days and heavy fog prevented running 1 day.

Each running day he covered an average of 28.4km distance and 1.9km of elevation.

Or put another way, Christian ran the length of 321 Golden Gate Bridges and climbed the equivalent of 6.6 Mt. Everests stacked on top of each other.

You can read the log detailing the ups and downs for the Swim-Run-Swim to Get a Lifeboat adventure here or on Facebook.

Funds raised: £13,069 (USD 17,300)

AtlanticPacific is an NGO founded by UWC Atlantic alumni Robin Jenkins, who did the Inshore Life-Boat community service whilst he was at the College (88-90). The mission of AtlanticPacific is to “provide lifeboats where there are none”.

UWC Atlantic has a proud history of students building lifeboats. The Rigid Inflatable Boat “RIB” was invented at UWC Atlantic and then sold for £1 to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution “RNLI”, who made a huge commercial success of it. UWC Atlantic never cashed the cheque.

Although UWC Atlantic is no longer a recognised RNLI call out station, AtlanticPacific works hard to keep the student boat building activity alive at the college.

All donations went 100% to Atlantic Pacific. Christian covered his own costs. 

If you would like to make a donation to support AtlanticPacific’s great work, you can donate here.

“As a newly establised NGO struggling to obtain funding, it was amazing to receive a call from Christian saying he wanted to fundraise for us. That he ended up raising more than enough funds to have students build a lifeboat at UWC Atlantic was well beyond our expectations and helped us tremendously move forward with our mission.” 

Robin Jenkins, Founder and CEO, AtlanticPacific

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