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Together they’ll be helping runners from the UK tackle demanding trail runs and the ultimate mountain challenge, The Porter’s Race.

And while it’s the physical challenge that attracts people to the event, the Orbis Challenge is about far more than that. It’s about raising awareness and much-needed money for community projects within Malawi too.

In the first part of this two-part series we’ll tell you a little about the challenge and what it means to be a part of it.

What is Sport with a Purpose?

Yes, sport is about physical fitness, getting our bodies into shape, reducing health issues and even making friends and socialising. But the ‘Sport with a Purpose’ movement sets out to make it about so much more than that. It’s about using big events, big challenges and big names to raise awareness of issues. It’s about recognising that participating in sports is good for mental health, global mindedness and community spirit and for generally doing good.

This is a philosophy promoted by Dame Kelly Holmes, legendary Olympian turned charity fundraiser, author and speaker. That’s why she wanted to get involved with The Orbis Challenge.

The Orbis Challenge

Started in 2018, The Orbis Challenge was the brainchild of Kate and Dom Webb, owners of the Responsible Safari Company in Malawi. They wanted a way to raise awareness and support for issues in the country and getting Dame Kelly Holmes on board seemed like the perfect way to raise the profile of the event.

The event began as a team of 20, with Dame Kelly at the helm, taking on the ultimate Malawi Challenge: running Mulanje Mountain (The Porter’s Race), cycling across Zomba Plateau, and kayaking on Lake Malawi. This year it’s a bit different, this one focusses on running only, with the team taking on three trails – the traditional 25km Porter’s Race as well as a 20km forest trail and a 20km run along the lake shores. It’s hot, it’ll push its participants to the edge of their limits, but the experience will be one that is unforgettable.

And there are rest days in between, where runners get to experience the local culture for themselves and try out local sports as well as finding out more about the community projects the charity is supporting.

And the sport for purpose bit? This year’s Orbis Challenge focus is to raise £10,000 to support the work of Open Arms Malawi and their commitment to prevent malnutrition in local children. Because in Malawi, malnutrition causes a staggering 23% of child deaths. The £10,000 raised will provide food for 550 Open Arms children over 12 months.

Running with an Olympian

Of course, the other big draw for the participants of this race is the opportunity to run with an Olympic gold medallist. With the chance to draw inspiration from Dame Kelly’s ethos and approach to her running and her charity work. This isn’t a race, it’s a team run where participants support each other, and often they’re joined by Malawian locals along the way. And they’re pretty quick!

Rob took part last year and is returning this year in a team leader capacity because he took so much from the experience.

How you can get involved

Find out more about the Orbis Trail Challenge and follow #sportwithpurpose and #orbischallenge on Instagram to see pictures of the event as it happens.

Stay tuned for part 2 when we’ll catch up with Rob on his return from the Orbis Challenge.

All images supplied by Venetia Norrington Photography.