IT IS an expedition that might be more at home on the pages of an adventure novel, a three stage expedition that will take Limerick’s Maghnus Collins and Tipperary’s David Burns from Istanbul to Shanghai, by bicycle, on foot and by raft.
The duo, veterans of two previous trips that saw them cycle 17,500km through Africa and back to Limerick in 2009 and run six marathons in five days on the gruelling 250km Sahara Race in 2010, are preparing to set off on their latest expedition in April, called ‘Silk Roads To Shanghai’.
The two man unsupported expedition will see the duo cycle 8,500km from Istanbul to Lhasa - via Syria, Iran, Pakistan and India - run and trek over 1000 km through the Himalayas to the source of the Yangtze River in China, which they will then descend in its entirety - about 6,300km - on a raft and kayak, which they believe no-one has ever achieved before.
The aim is to raise €50,000 for development charity Self Help Africa, founded by Limerick man Ray Jordan. They previously raised €40,000 for Self Help.
“We wanted a charity that we could tell people exactly where their money was going,” explained Maghnus, originally from Corbally and currently living in Mungret.
“Having been in Africa and investigating development aid, we thought that the Self Help model was the best we have come across, nationally and internationally, we have yet to find anything remotely like their model and strategy,” he added.
The enterprising duo are not in the slightest bit fazed by the seemingly obvious pitfalls of their upcoming expedition.
“I genuinely believe that, because of our experiences in Sudan and Zimbabwe, which we were heavily warned about - on a ground level, the people we are likely to meet, I really don’t see personal safety being a major issue,” explained the former Crescent College Comprehensive student.
“The idea of it being unsupported is very important for us. The Sahara Race for example was not - there where doctors, trucks, water, you can get out of there if needs be - but this won’t be, although there are ways out, in theory you are on your own and you have to solve any problems that arise.”
With regard to the motivation that such an expedition requires, Maghnus finds it difficult to explain.
“It is a very hard question to answer and one I ask myself all the time. It is definitely not an adrenaline thing, it is something about the way you think, that is best way I can describe it, it gives you more time to think and every day there is something that you have to push yourself toward.
“It is different for everyone, I love the physical part of it, I love being wrecked at the end of the day and pushing yourself beyond your limits, just to see how far you can go,” he added.
The duo aim to host a range of fundraising initiatives before they leave, including a ball in the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin and plan to speak to secondary school students about their adventures.
See Sand2Snow Adventures for contact details and how to donate.