South African runner Rehan Greeff claimed victory in his TriChallenge in London on Saturday – having completed three Iron-Man triathlons in three countries in six days, all to raise money for children.
He covered a total distance of 678 km – swimming 11.4 km, cycling 540 km and running 126.6 km – but that does not include all the flights and road travel between the United Kingdom, South Africa and Uganda.
The enormous strain that he had put his body through during the week barely showed on his delighted face as he was met by his family, friends and a glittering “Welcome Home” sign in the twilight.
The first event was held in South Africa, in and around the town of Wellington, just outside Cape Town, on Monday 27 June. The date was of personal significance to Rehan because it was on this day a year ago that his dad, Frikkie, passed away.
The day started before sunrise with a freezing 3.8 km swim in the dam at the Bosman Family Vineyard, followed by a 180 km cycle and then a 42.2 km run, ending at the church where Frikkie started and ended his career.
The team was up early again on Tuesday morning to set off at midday for Uganda and the second triathlon. But, not without a stop in Khayelitsha first to meet some of the children that ForAfrika supports in this informal settlement on the outskirts of the city.
They only arrived in Kisoro, south-western Uganda, at about 8am on Wednesday morning and headed straight from their tiny chartered plane to Lake Mutanda for Rehan’s swim.
The second triathlon was the most arduous of the three – unfamiliar, hilly territory and unfamiliar gear, including a borrowed bicycle with cleats that broke en route! The marathon only ended after 2am on Thursday and the team just managed a quick shower and three hours’ sleep before trekking off to the refugee centre to see ForAfrika in action there.
“The visit to the refugee centre was a highlight,” said Rehan, adding that it was incredibly sad to see so many children without their parents.
“But it was also wonderful to see how many refugees volunteer at the camp,” said Carel Meganck, ForAfrika’s general manager in the UK.
“Uganda was very different and we had to improvise a lot, but it was beautiful terrain and we even went through parts of the forest where gorillas live,” he said. “The ForAfrika team was very encouraging and passionate, cheering Rehan on the whole way without losing a drop of enthusiasm on what turned out to be a very long haul.”
One volunteer, Mike Kisegerwa, who happens to be a celebrated cyclist in Uganda, accompanied Rehan for the whole 180 km cycle.
At the finish, ForAfrika’s Allan Tingu exclaimed: “A million thanks to all of you for the flexibility and support you extended to the Uganda team during this great mission. We are proud to host such a mesmerising team led by a man with a big heart, Rehan!”
After an hour at Kisoro it was back to the airport for a plane bound for England, where the final event took place on much more gentle ground.
The physical action may be over, but Rehan is still adding up the pennies: his aim was to raise £100 000 this year to assist vulnerable children in Africa.
This was the fifth personal challenge that Rehan has set himself since he was “miraculously healed” in 2017 from multiple knee injuries.
For the past few years, he has set himself personal quests under the title of “Run Forest Run” in recognition of his childhood nickname, which he was given because he had to wear metal leg braces just like the film character Forrest Gump.
After being healed of his knee injuries during a CRC church service, he decided to give thanks by taking on these quests in support of vulnerable children. In 2021, he raised a whopping £50 000 (almost R1 000 000) by running the equivalent of seven marathons in one go; the furthest he had ever run.
Rehan, a chartered accountant now living in the United Kingdom, is the biggest individual fundraiser in aid of ForAfrika (previously known as JAM).
He deserves our admiration and our rewards. Please help him reach his goal by donating today! Visit forafrika.org.