The GL 35 Challenge

Operation Smile is celebrating its 35th year of providing corrective surgery for children born with cleft lips and palates globally.

I have been involved in OP Smile SA for the past 10 years and this relationship has grown with my daughter Tamlin also now working in the organization.

So guess what?

I got a call – “Dad we are celebrating 35 years of Operation Smile- We want to raise enough funding to put 35 children in 35 days.”

My mind began to run; what can we do with the Miles For Smiles initiative to assist with this cause?


Damn it, I looked out the window and there she stood – Table mountain, and the idea was born.

How about running up the mountain 35 times in 35 days.

It was a quick call to Andrew Stuart my running partner and then the King of commitment Jean van Lierop. The challenge was on.

But what about when any of us are out of town and have to travel?

I got a verbal clap from the guys with this, if there is an issue, no matter what it is and you miss the morning, you then run it twice the morning before you leave and so on it will go until you catch up the shortfall of up runs.

“Bring on the mountain – bring on the smiles.”

Who are GL

Day 1 got off to a bit of a bad start.

IMG_1691 (1280x866) copyBoth Andy and I hit a deficit – time to catch up.

It was an early start, but not to the mountain; I was off to the Expresso breakfast show to launch the whole project, so I had a valid non-start, but I was going to do it in the afternoon.

Jean carried the can for us and up he went at 5-30 with Ian, a new recruit.

In came the pictures as proof. Andy and I were excited about the afternoon first trip up via Platteklip gorge. (But “Eish!” the problems, as Jean uses excuses)

Andy pulled his hamstring, doing what??? I had an emergency, a dental procedure at 2 in the afternoon. I had to have an implant removed, I am not even going to try and explain what I went through. No excuse.

20171009_075908Early Saturday I dragged myself up the mountain.

I began at 5 in the dark with the renegade and his dog Jean and Charlie. (Charlie has done every trip to-date).

Wow, it was worth it, just to see the sun slowly claw its way up and over the crest of the mountain and spew warmth over the Cape flats, slowly the rays of light began to bring the most beautiful wash of colour to the floral landscape around us.

Finally I am in the groove, but today is the hard one as I have to do it twice to catch up for Friday. Andy did the Gun Run and now he is going to have to do the hill as well on tired legs, but that’s all part of the GL 35 Challenge.

The little hardship and pain we are putting ourselves through is nothing compared to what the children are going through living a life of isolation and living as a social outcast just because the way they look. Every step we take is worth it.

“Team member Charlie” and old spike.


Charlie our team leader – Charlie is a little Fox Terrier he is the most energetic “Turbo Bunny” I have ever met. He always takes the lead and stays there setting a relentless pace; every now and then he stops and looks back as if to say: “come on you old geezers pick up the pace”. He gives a little pleading squeal and off he goes, up and up into the distance he pushes on, nose to the ground.

The other morning he was not normal, in and out around my feet he swirled, constantly getting in the way running out ahead and then turning back. Something was bothering him. It was just after 5 and we were taking the route up through the Newlands forest to Newlands ravine. The next minute I hear a yelp followed by another, right next to me in the darkness all hell was breaking loose.

Charlie lurched into the air like a Springbok in full flight. Down he came, hitting the ground yelping. There was a lot of rustling going on next to me, as I turned my headlight caught the commotion. There was Charlie facing this fluffed up bundle of spikes, rattling its sabres. Charlie the mad demon was having none of this; he was intent on sorting out this issue.

Luckily Jean managed to snap him out of his insanity, that was just enough to defuse the situation – down the hill scurried the Porcupine a mass of enraged spikes – Charlie lives to fight another hill.

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