Two years ago, Gavin never imagined that he would run a half marathon. Yet he found himself at the starting line of the Muskathlon challenge in Sumba, Indonesia, waiting to start the adventure of a lifetime.
10 Jan, 2018
It was just after 4am on Friday 13 October, when I arrived at the local Compassion child development centre in Sumba, ready to tackle our Muskathlon challenge. The smell of paraffin filled the air, from the bamboo torches that helped to illuminate the course in the early morning light.
Two years ago, I could never have imagined that I would ever run a 21km half-marathon. Yet here I was, standing at the starting line of the Muskathlon challenge in Sumba, Indonesia, waiting for the adventure to begin.
This was my first organised run and I had no idea what to expect and I wondered if I would even finish. I don’t consider myself an athlete. The only running I had done was for the bus or train, and occasionally running the bath.
Inspired by the opportunity to help fight poverty and change children’s lives around the world, I made the decision to sign up for this life transforming adventure.
And what an adventure it was. I joined over one hundred participants from six countries (The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, The UK, USA and Australia). During our time there, we had the opportunity to see the work of Compassion first-hand. We visited some of the local churches that Compassion partners with, who are working to break the cycle of extreme poverty in the lives of some of the most vulnerable children. We also visited the homes of children and families, whose lives are being impacted by this incredible work.
I also had the opportunity to spend time with Anggun, one of the children we sponsor as a family. Anggun is an amazing eight-year-old boy, with enormous potential. His parents are doing all they can to provide for him. Working seven days a week, they struggle to put food on the table, let alone provide enough to pay for Anggun’s school books.
During my visit to their home, I was able to pray for his parents and encourage them. We share the same dreams for our children and they wanted to provide opportunities for Anggun and his siblings to grow, flourish, and achieve their highest potential.
The run itself was an amazing experience. It’s not every day you get to experience the sun rising over rice paddies or run past water buffalo! The course was lined with children and their families, cheering us on as we ran (and sometimes walked) past.
There was an incredible sense of comradery, unlike other sporting events where you can be competing against strangers, whose aim it is to win or achieve the fastest time. With the Muskathlon, you are participating with people who are running to make a difference in the lives of others.
We all chose to do the Muskathlon to help support the work of Compassion and to bring change to the children, families and wider community in Sumba. The 112 participants made a significant difference, collectively helping to find sponsors for over 400 children and raising over $700,000. But, without a doubt, the biggest change that happened during the Muskathlon week was in the hearts and lives of the participants.
Was it worth it? Yes! Would I do it again? Yes.
I’ve already committed to lead the next two Muskathlon trips for Compassion Australia to the Philippines in May and Indonesia in October 2018. Inspired by the dedication of the runners I met, I have also decided to extend myself even further and am aiming to complete my first full marathon.
If you are up for an adventure that will not only challenge you but change lives, click here to learn more.
Words by Gavin McCulloch