It may not compare with the harshness of running 275 kilometres across the Sahara Desert, but Kelowna long distance runner Connor Clerke tested the limits of his physical endurance last weekend.
And he did that as a means of raising money and awareness of the need for new schools in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa.
On Saturday Connor completed a nonstop 130 km run from the U.S. border at Osoyoos to City Park in Kelowna.
Along with education in the Congo, Clerke was also running to help raise money for water projects in Africa initiated by the impossible2Possible organization.
The run, inspired by Clerke’s Sahara trek in support of the same organization in 2010, was to highlight the vast amount of clean, safe drinking water here in the Okanagan as opposed to many other parts of the world he is hoping to help.
Clerke hoped that his 130 km run, starting at Osoyoos Lake and proceeding north along the Okanagan River, Skaha Lake and then along the southern half of Okanagan Lake would help achieve this objective.
Clerke began at 4 a.m. at the U.S. border and attempted to cover off 10 km per hour, hoping to arrive at City Park around 5 p.m.
Cool, cloudy conditions aided his run although pounding pavement for nearly 13 hours can take its toll on a body.
The most he had ever run in one of his training runs was passed at the 45 km mark at 8:30 a.m. as he made his way along Skaha Lake.
The next 8 km would be uncharted territory for the 19-year-old runner.
At Trout Creek, south of Summerland, Clerke was joined by Daniel Medland-Marchen who would run alongside for the next 20 km, spurring on his former Kelowna Minor Hockey and Kelowna Track and Field Club teammate.
At the Okanagan Park campground, the two were joined by three current members of the Okanagan Athletics Club, who also helped encourage Clerke as he approached the final third of his quest.
Clerke was also joined on and off by good friend Matt Blais, who tagged along to video the event.
After a very short lunch break Clerke set off alone for the final 37 km of his journey.
Although extremely tired and beginning to get very sore, Clerke was able to pick up his pace for the final leg of the journey which included the 2.5 km Drought Hill climb into Westbank.
By 4:30 p.m., 12.5 hours after his start at the U.S. border, Clerke rounded the curve and headed down to Bennett Bridge, where he was joined by his mother, brother and aunt to run together the final leg of his trip across the bridge and into City Park where he was greeted by numerous friends and family.
For more information on the event or to make a pledge to Clerke’s epic run, see www.oneworldokanagan.org or call 250-868-3616.
Donations can be made out to Hope for the Nations and mailed to 1360 McKinley Rd., Kelowna B.C., V1V 2B7.