Big-hearted desert pair race to rescue

Dr Andrew Murray and Donnie Campbell
Dr Andrew Murray and Donnie Campbell
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AN Edinburgh resident has taken part in a drive to help some of the world’s poorest communities.

Donnie Campbell, 30, was one of two runners who crossed the Namib Desert from Luderitz to Walvis Bay in Namibia.

Following the run, the team engaged in community work and the sharing of medical and athletic equipment in places where the items are desperately needed.

And the duo helped provide education in the Kuiseb River region, working with Chief Kooitjie and the local Topnaar Tribe.

The pair’s desert expedition crossed the highest sand dunes in the world and included the formidable Devil’s Workshop, which was taken on in punishing conditions as they completed more than 50km every single day.

They covered just over 504km in total – almost entirely on punishing, heavy sand – and crossed the finish line on February 10 this year.

Mr Campbell, who ran with Dr Andrew Murray, 34, a sport and exercise tutor at Edinburgh University, said it was a privilege to be able to assist vulnerable communities.

And he said the opportunity to take on the run made the experience even more memorable.

He said: “Running 500-odd kilometres though the Namib Desert was extremely tough and we could not have done it without the expertise of our expedition leaders David Scott, Bert Jukes and the support and superb local knowledge from the team in Namibia.

“Their route selection was incredible considering no-one has ever driven parts of the route, never mind ran it, so this was a huge effort to deliver Andrew and myself to Walvis Bay a bit battered, bruised and tired but still in one piece.

“We even ran through abandoned diamond mines, although my fiancée Rachael will be disappointed to learn I couldn’t find a big one ahead of our wedding.”

The Namib stretches for more than 2000km along the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia and South Africa.

It extends southward from the Carunjamba River in Angola, through Namibia, and to the Olifants River in Western Cape, South Africa.

The Namib’s northernmost portion, which extends 450km from the Angola-Namibia border, is known as Moçâmedes Desert, while its southern section approaches the neighbouring Kalahari Desert.

Organiser David Scott paid tribute to the pair. He said: “As expedition organiser I was faced with huge logistical and safety concerns.

“The physical demands we placed on the guys were immense and throughout the challenge we were never certain we would emerge successful.

“Apart from seeing the guys cross over the finish line my lasting memory will surely be having the privilege of tackling terrain through special concession areas which had never been driven or run over before.”