26 year old Chris Jackson from London runs 12 marathons in 12 months to raise awareness of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo ‘rape capital of the world’
Every year, London-based Chris Jackson (26), sets himself the goal of completing a challenge and raising money for charity, “so that I can look back when I’m old and grey and think that I’ve given a little bit back”.
However, 2010 for Chris is slightly different. He’s set himself the ambitious target of running twelve marathons in twelve months, to raise awareness of the current crisis in the Congo and funds for Women for Women International; a charity supporting women in areas of conflict around the world, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The conflict in the east of the Congo has been described as the deadliest in the world since WWII with an estimated 5.4 million dead (2.7 million of them children), over 9000 people were raped in the Kivu province alone last year and in the first three months of 2010 115,000 lost their homes.
As well as fundraising and challenging himself physically, Chris wanted to help raise awareness of the current crisis in the Congo with UK policy makers and the public. “Whilst fundraising is important, I’m realistic enough to know that if you want to see substantive change in the DRC, then you need to inform the public and policy makers about what is happening”.
Chris spent every available opportunity during his university days studying Africa and specifically the Great Lakes Region (which includes DRC).
“My interest in this area comes from my time working out in East Africa and specifically Uganda. I regularly used to read articles on the DRC when living out there.
“I think to make an informed view on a subject you have to witness it firsthand, so last summer I headed over to Goma in DRC and I was enormously struck by what I saw and heard – it’s one thing reading about it, it’s a whole different ball game when you speak to someone face to face.
“Some two million people in the East of the country aren’t able to go home because of the current conflict, with rape and violence a daily threat. I left the DRC keen to do something, even if it was just to inform friends and family about what’s occurring out there”.
Chris decided to take up the challenge of running 12 marathons in 12 months. He has now signed up to 2 triathlons, 1 iron man, running the length of Hadrian’s Wall and also round the capital ring.
And he’s planning a trip to DRC in July/August to run a marathon over there and visit some of Women for Women International’s projects which are helping thousands of women who have often been violated, seen their husbands and children die and who have lost their homes, move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency.
The 12x12 Challenge so far:
- Gloucester marathon: 3hrs and 15mins -25th.
- London Ultramarathon (50km): 4.30 min s- 29th place
- Duchy Marathon: 2hrs 59 and 30 seconds - 6th place
- Virgin London Marathon: 2hrs and 54 minutes (a new PB)
- Edinburgh Marathon: 2hrs and 56 minutes - 64th
- South Downs Marathon: 3hrs and 25 minutes - 13th
- Blenheim Triathlon
Chris’s running schedule for second half of 2010
- 3rd July Run for Congo UK – Regent’s Park
- Marathon in the Asics store
- Running the length of Hadrian’s Wall (85 miles)
- Iron Man (2.5 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run)
- Marathon in the Congo
- Nottingham Marathon
- Running London Capital Ring (73 miles)
In 2010 Chris will run 633 competitive miles, not to mention the 40+ miles that Chris runs every week to keep in shape for all of this.
To find out more, or to sponsor Chris, check out: www.justgiving.com/eonanddonate
Women for Women Internationa website
www.congonow.org: Congo Now is a coalition of 30 organisations including Women for Women International which campaigns for greater awareness of what is happening in DRC and is having a series of events over the coming months here in the UK
For a bit more detail on the crisis in DRC check out these articles: