John Horsfall: running 27 marathons for the children of Africa

WE TALK to John Horsfall about his recent marathon-running challenge to raise money for Bread and Water for Africa UK.

John Horsfall

John Horsfall has just completed an epic marathon challenge which has seen him run the equivalent of 27 marathons and ultra-marathons in 31 days.


JOHN HORSFALL found his passion for adventure when he cycled across America and down through New Zealand in 2012. His latest challenge has seen him run solo and self-supported from Mt Elgon on the Ugandan border to Kilifi on the Kenyan coast. The challenge saw him run the equivalent of 27 marathons and ultra-marathons in 31 days.


John put himself through the highs and lows of such a challenge to raise money for the Lewa Children’s Orphanage through Bread and Water for Africa UK. Here he talks to us about the run and the passion he has to raise money for the children of African.

You can still donate to the cause by going to www.instagram.com/johnhorsfall/.


Tell us a little about your running challenge and where the inspiration for it came from?


On September 1 this year I embarked upon what someone described to me as the “stupidest idea they had ever heard of”. The idea was to run solo and self-supported from Mt Elgon on the Ugandan border 1,250km to Kilifi on the Kenyan coast, 27 marathons and ultra-marathons in 31 days carrying all my stuff in a backpack. I suppose why people might have been sceptical was because I had never done a marathon in my life.


My inspiration for this was a number of things:


1) I wanted explore Africa in the most unique way I could think of.


2) I had been to Kenya before and after the recent attacks people had built up such a negative perception of the country through the western media, that I want to show them the unbelievable diversity of the country and what incredible people live there.


3) To raise as much money as I could to help the Lewa Children’s Orphanage through Bread and Water for Africa UK, this was a charity I knew of for a while and seeing the work that goes on there, I wanted to do what I could to help them and I felt by incorporating the orphanage into the route, I could see and show people at home where the money is going first hand as well as an added incentive to keep me going when the going got tough.


Africa children

John is passionate about raising money for children who find the odds stacked against them in Africa.


Is this first challenge of this kind you’ve done and what has been your previous experience of adventure and running?


No, in 2012 I decided to buy a bike and cycle solo across America and down New Zealand over 5,000 miles combined, I had never been to either so every day was fresh and new and this was where I got my love for adventures, exploring places and pushing the limits to one’s potential.


As for running, I am not a runner in the traditional sense. I had never done a marathon before, runner was merely the mode of transport I choose to see Africa. My first ever marathon was day 1 on Mount Elgon and I probably couldn’t have picked a harder place to start!


John Hosfall

All the money raised from John’s challenge is being donated to the Lewa Children’s Orphanage through Bread and Water for Africa UK.


What were some of the highlights of the challenge and what were some of the toughest moments?


Everyday had its moments of joy and heartache. I suppose getting shin splints on day 8 didn’t help my running and it got worse each day as I ran and as my dosage of painkillers went up! But on ‘Unlucky Day 13’ was probably the toughest, as the day before I was taken out to a local restaurant where I had some dodgy BBQ chicken, and that night was spent with my head in the loo. The next morning I was still throwing up but instead of staying in bed like any normal human being to recover, for some stupid reason on an empty stomach I decided to run, I had 40 km to cover, every 2 or 3 km I would stop look back and think about going back to a bed but somehow I managed to make it to my destination. That night though I was really ill again and had to spend the next day in bed!


It's all smiles as John meets some well-armed members of the military on one of his runs.

It’s all smiles as John meets some well-armed members of the military on one of his runs.


There were a number of highlights from seeing wild game as I ran, meeting the local people to spending the day at Lewa Children’s Orphanage but I suppose the most surreal day was day 19 when the former vice-president of Kenya and leader of Political Party Viper had found out about my run and asked me to see him. Everyone said I needed to turn up in my best suit but I turned up in my only outfit, my running gear, to see him. I had no idea what was in store. I was expecting a hand shake, a pat on the back and maybe a local journalist, but no, he warmly greeted me and asked me about my experiences and why I am doing it, then he said we will go and meet the media. We entered into the outside area of a restaurant where there must have been 40-odd journalists and a good five cameras. They were all from national TV news and newspapers. Then as we sat down together he told me to fire away, there I was, cameras pointing at me, microphones below giving a talk on what I am doing and why on Kenyan national TV. Maybe wishing I had brushed up on my public speaking before hand!! The next day I was page 4 of their biggest newspaper.




John enters Uganda during the challenge.


How can we donate to the cause and get behind Bread and Water for Africa UK?


You can donate to the Lewa Children’s Orphanage via my fundraising page which is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/John-Horsfall and also see the day to day diary of my adventure through Kenya on my Instagram page which is at www.instagram.com/johnhorsfall/


ocean walk

John getting some relief from the ocean at one stage of his challenge.


When you’re not running what’s your day-to-day life like?


At the moment I am recovering, the running with shin splints took it tolls at the end and now I am on crutches to try and let my leg mend. I am working for a Multi-disciplinary firm in Central London called BDP and hopefully when I recover I will be back playing some sport, as well as cycling to work rather than having cram myself onto the London buses and tube every day.


Do you have any plans for future challenges or adventures in the coming months and years?


At the moment I am enjoying the rest and eating as much as I can get my hands on!! But I would be lying if I said I am finished after my last trip, it is an incredible way to explore and find inspiration so I have a few ideas of what’s next. You will just have to wait and see.

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