Name: Steven Wong
Location: every (half) marathon in the Netherlands
My mountain: I’m not a professional runner, but I am a runner. I love running and I run regularly, almost every day. In 2010, I participated in Halve Marathon Eindhoven and I succeeded. Just like how Roman and Jelmer David described their feeling when they stood on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2009, “I felt the need to do more!”
It is NM2H that makes me realize that, if someone really loves doing something, he should do it more, he should do it better, and he should even do it for a reason, just like what NM2H has been doing for Pakistani entrepreneurs. Therefore I decided to make a long term mission of running and commit to it. That is how No Road Too Long came into being.
Here is a brief story about No Road Too Long. Important to know is that it is neither an NGO nor an organization of any form; it is purely a personal program for Marathon race. But what is also important is that, the startup of NR2L was 100% inspired by NM2H. My resolution is simple: complete all major Marathon (or half Marathon) races in the Netherlands during my stay in the Netherlands.
To me, NM2H are delivering power of youth, power of determination, power of charity, power of entrepreneurship, and power of loving care. All these powers are so inspiring and I call them positive powers. And that is what I have perceived in NM2H.
In addition to running, I care a lot about education. Since I left the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2007, I graduated in 2008 as an electrical engineer in China and got my master degree with the same major in the Netherlands 2 years later. Since then, I’ve been working in Eindhoven as an engineer for a large multinational. But importantly, most of my spare time goes to running, education, and volunteering work. I’ve been a volunteer teacher for years and I also served two years in an educational NGO based in HK (CCCEF), associated with Harvard and with a mission to inspire the next generation.
I’ve been following NM2H for months and I am so impressed by your efforts and achievements. I wish you a bigger success in future!
Click here for more information about No Road Too Long.
Name: Nard van Hensbergen
Location: Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
My mountain: I had been working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for a number of months when I looked through Jelmer’s photos and stories of his and Roman’s NM2H Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua and Elbrus expeditions. The weather in Riyadh had been hot, dusty and generally uncomfortable and pictures of snowy mountains and gorgeous vistas looked appealing. Jokingly I turned to my colleague and said, “We should do Kilimanjaro” to which he responded, “That’s a fantastic idea!” Not much later we had convinced two of our other colleagues and unknowingly we had committed to the biggest physical challenge of our lives thus far. As we looked into the logistics it became apparent that the plan was realizable; we planned time off, booked flights, arranged for a guide agency (a great local non-profit group called Focus in Africa) and that was it – only 3 months left.
The next period was spent preparing in the gym (outdoor activity during Saudi’s summer months was impossible). Long runs and hikes on treadmills set to steep inclines became a routine after we finished work. The last month was the toughest, during the Islamic fasting period of Ramadan (when daytime eating and drinking is prohibited) it was hard to maintain a healthy fitness regime but consistent training and sneaky apples kept us going. Flying in to Kilimanjaro was a surreal experience. Looking out of the window while flying past a large mountain covered in snow with steep cliffs we hear the voice of the captain, “On your direct left you see Mt Meru but Mt Kilimanjaro is the one behind it.” Our jaws drop as we notice an outline of a much larger dark shadow in the distance – Kili towers an additional 1,300mts over Meru.
Following a warm welcome at the airport and a day of rest we embark with a group of 20 (guides, cook, & porters) on our 6 day Lemosho route. The climb of Kilimanjaro brings different challenges every day for each member of the team. From physical challenges (such as picking up a cold or blistering feet) to mental challenges (fear of heights), each member has to face his ‘mountain’ and overcome it. Days vary wildly from long (10hr+) jungle hikes to short, steep bursts up to the next camp along rocky paths. Nights get colder and the air gets thinner as we get closer and closer to the summit. The final ascent during the darkness of night is the hardest – the steepest track combined with no visibility and extreme cold puts everyone in extreme physical discomfort. Along the path some climbers take long rest stops while others descent as they have given up trying to battle altitude sickness - our team presses on.
Forcing the slowest team member to lead the way and set the pace we reach the summit at 5,895mts just past sunrise. While stopping for a few photos everyone seems to have forgotten about the lack of oxygen, the blisters, the discomfort and the pain – at this point in time the sense of accomplishment is the overruling emotion. A steady descent followed by a few days of safari meant all of us re-energized before going back to work. Today some of us have decided this was their one mountain, the others would like to tread in Jelmer and Roman’s footsteps and cover additional summits. But regardless of the future, we had all made it to the top of Kilimanjaro together.
Click here for photos to go with the story.