Shaun Lilford and Robert Peters completed their epic Islands2Bays Challenge in 9-hours and all in support of making sure more kids learn how to swim in Philippi.
As the sun set over Hout Bay, Shaun Lilford and Robert Peters ran the last few hundred meters to the ocean to complete their epic Islands2Bays Challenge – a 9-hour journey, consisting of an 8.5 km Robben Island Crossing, followed by a 44 km run from Big Bay to Hout Bay.
Lilford and Peters, along with two other friends, completed the Crossing in 2016. It was Lilford’s sixth and Peters’ first. Since then, Lilford and Peters set their eyes on a bigger challenge that would be crazy enough to help raise funds for the Philippi Children’s Centre (PCC) and their water safety programme. The Centre is equipped with a covered swimming pool – The Love to Langa Swimming Academy – and the Headstart Swim School helps provide weekly swimming lessons for resident and local children.
“Philippi is a farming area and every year there are tragic accidents when youngsters are tempted to swim in the dams and get into trouble. Children at PCC are offered weekly lessons for R100/month, heavily subsidized by Headstart. Sadly, even this small amount is beyond the means of some parents,” says the school.
According to statistics from the NSRI, 600 children die from drowning in South Africa every year and up to 6 000 children will survive a drowning experience.
A spark of inspiration turned into an idea, which became a training programme and a Back-a-Buddy fundraising page, and soon the inaugural Island2Bays Challenge was born.
“I have always wanted to give something back to those less-fortunate than myself and the decision to take on the Island2Bays was an easy one when I considered who would benefit most from it,” says Peters.
“It is also an opportunity to show my own kids that they have been given a head start, both in terms of swimming and life in general, by virtue of their privilege. I would love nothing more than for them to use that head start to give back at some point as well.”
Lilford and Peters left Robben Island at 8:30 on Saturday morning, accompanied by Derrick Frazer who most recently seconded Lewis Pugh during his record-breaking English Channel swim. The pair completed the 8.5 km crossing in 2 hours 54 minutes in 13 degree water temperatures with nothing but a speedo and enthusiasm to keep them warm.
After a quick snack and a change into dry clothes, they began their marathon run to Hout Bay. Their route took them along the ocean from Eden on the Bay and past Paarden Eiland before turning into the city. Inspired by this heroic attempt, a number of support runners joined the duo on their run through the CBD, Sea Point Promenade and onto the road from Camps Bay to their final destination.
“It was honestly the hardest challenge and event I have ever done in my life,” said Lilford. “But knowing that we might be able to save one child from drowning, really got me through the times I wanted to give up.”
Anyone wishing to contribute to Shaun and Rob’s Back-a-Buddy campaign can still do so here: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/the-island-2-bays-challenge
The amazing dads have already raised just over R16,000 towards their end goal. Their efforst are inspiring!