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WATCH: Local conquers 7in7 Challenge for good cause

"The road is for everyone. We want to get more disabled athletes on the road."

Benonian Mark ‘Muddy’ Ferreira and assisted wheelchair athlete Michaela ‘Chaeli’ Mycroft achieved an incredible feat in running six consecutive ultramarathons before conquering the Comrades Marathon on June 9.

Known collectively as Team Beastie, and along with Chantal Fisher, they completed seven ultras in seven days in their 7in7 Challenge to raise funds for the Chaeli Campaign to build custom-made wheelchairs for assisted runners and to empower adaptive teams to get on the road to prove running is for everyone.

“The road is for everyone,” said Ferreira.

“We want to get more disabled athletes on the road. We are trying to create more adaptive teams that can achieve some of the amazing things myself and Chaeli have done.”

Mark Ferreira and Chaeli Mycroft during the Comrades Marathon expo.

The 7in7 Challenge started last year with Ferreira covering an equivalent of the Comrades Marathon distance for six days and running the ultimate human race with Mycroft on day seven, in support of the Chaeli Campaign’s fight for inclusion and equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

“Post-Covid, my friends wanted to run from Johannesburg to Durban to run in the Comrades the next day. This led to the start of the 7in7 Challenge,” Ferreira said.

Mark Ferreira, Chaeli Mycroft and Chantal Fisher started the 97th Comrades at 05:00, ahead of the field for safety reasons. They finished in 11:44:26 for a Vic Clapham medal.

This year, they ran six circuits of ultras, starting with 50km each on June 3 and 4 at the Cradle of Humankind. On day three, they covered 45km in Benoni with members of the MHC Fitness Centre before linking up with Paralympian Louzanne Coetzee in Bloemfontein, running around the University of Free State on day four.

They spent day five at Kearsney College in Botha’s Hill, doing a circuit inside the college before driving down to Durban to run from the city centre to Westbrook on June 8.

Chaeli Mycroft and her team at the end of day four.

They concluded with the Comrades up-run on June 9, finishing the ultramarathon at 11:44:26.
“It was tough, but we achieved what we wanted,” he said.

Mental strength

Ferreira is an endurance sports fanatic. Some of his achievements include the Robben Island Crossing, three Ironman events in three days in the USA and multiple ultra-endurance races in South Africa.

Mark Ferreira.

“He is probably one of the most mentally strong members I have. Physically you have to be strong to do what he does but if you are not strong enough mentally, you would not do it,” said Ferreira’s coach at MHC Fitness Centre, Ruan Röhm.

Ferreira and Mycroft began their friendship at the back end of the 2017 Comrades, running their first event at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in September of that year.

Chaeli Mycroft (front), with Chantal Fisher and Benonian Mark Ferreira at the finish of the 97th Comrades Marathon.

Since then, they have run three Comrades Marathons and done countless other projects to aid the Chaeli Campaign.

Ferreira believes in never judging a book by its cover. He joined the Chaeli Campaign because of Mycroft’s mental strength and fight for a good cause, despite her being confined to a wheelchair.

“Chaeli is mentally strong. She is the first paraplegic woman to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. So, don’t judge anything by what you see outside. Look at the heart and mental approach of what someone can do,” he said.

Mark Ferreira, Chaeli Mycroft and Chantal Fisher take a breather on the Comrades Marathon route.

“Being bound to a wheelchair and born with cerebral palsy, she relies on other people every day. To do the crazy things we do, means I also have to rely on other people. Teamwork, in moments of weakness, is one of the stellar things I have learnt from Chaeli.”

Next year, Team Beastie plans to do the 7in7 Challenge in Cape Town before the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon.

Also Read: #Comrades2024: Qhubeka sees success in first up-run

Also Read: #Comrades2024: BAC runner elated after achieving his goal


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