‘Average oke’ delays his medical dream to help others
Medic to run a half-marathon in full firefighting gear to help intellectually impaired and disabled adults
Most people can't drum up the energy to take part in a half-marathon, but even fewer would do it with 35kg on their back.
That’s the challenge former firefighter and tactical medic Mark Basson, 38, has set for himself – on November 18 he’ll run the Bluff half-marathon in full firefighting gear.
Basson’s 21km run will be dedicated to raising funds for Reaching Horizons and the Horizon Farm Trust.
The trust is a non-profit organisation started in 1994 in Giba Gorge near Durban by a group of parents of mentally and physically disabled children.
One of the founders, Dylan Hornby, said: “The dream was born out of necessity as there were, and still are, very few residential care facilities for intellectually impaired and disabled adults in KZN.”
A father of two working in Iraq as a tactical medic to support his family, Basson completed the Supa Mama Savages 10km and the Illovo Sugar 15km Christmas Challenge in 2015 in full bunker gear.
“I did them in an attempt to raise money so I could study my BTech in EMC [Emergency Medical Care].”
But Basson had to withdraw from his studies in the first year because he could not afford to study and support his family.
“It takes around four years and R100,000 to study, but that’s not the issue. I would not have been able to support my family properly.
“It’s still my goal to study advanced life support, but instead of focusing on my dream I would rather do stuff that helps others. I don’t need the degree to help people. I would love it, but my passion is in rescue and medical emergency medicine.”
Although Basson has previously run in complete bunker gear, this year he will wear running sneakers, not boots.
“The gear would be around 38kg including the boots. But this year I’ll be running with [running] shoes, otherwise I won’t have any feet left.”
According to Basson the cylinder set-up, or self-contained breathing apparatus, he will be wearing is the old steel cylinder instead of the modern composite cylinder. “The steel cylinder weighs 18kg. I’ve been training here [in Iraq] with the newer 4kg cylinder, so I’ve been compensating by running with body armour as well. It’s been tough.”
He said even though he trains at night it is still very hot.
“I land a week before the race. It’s a tough one [the Bluff marathon] with a lot of hills, but that’s just the way it is. People say I could have chosen a flatter run, but then again I could also wear lighter gear, but that’s part of the challenge.”
Basson knows about the Horizon Farm Trust through Hornby, a friend and former paramedic. Hornby’s son, 18-year-old Keegan, has cerebral palsy and moderate intellectual impairments.
“I don’t want this to be about me. I’m just an average oke doing something stupid in the hope to help people in need,” Basson said.
Basson wants to do a full marathon [42km] next year. “We are thinking about doing it with some Durban firefighters. Nothing is finalised yet, but it will be a big challenge. The heat especially is going to be challenging.”
The Horizon Farm Trust officially opened in 2004. The farm-style residence provides lifetime and respite care to people with varying disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, autism and Williams syndrome.
The farm, in association with South African Riding for the Disabled, runs a therapeutic horse-riding course. “The interaction with the animals, and the therapy, has been invaluable to the residents,” Hornby said.
The Bluff Marathon takes place at Fynnland Sports Club on the Bluff in Durban.