Now, probably somewhere north of Redwood Forest in California there is a lonesome warrior running his ass off. What sounds like pure enjoyment is actually a crusade for our oceans. In this case specifically for the pristine marine areas of Raja Ampat.
Before we get lost in thoughts about our next travel, we took the chance to talk with David about is honorable but also a bit crazy mission.
And we got news from him!
To raise awareness on the effects of plastic waste in our oceans and funds for management solutions in Raja Ampat, Friendly Drifter Co-Founder David Pennington began the Ocean Rescue Run on April 18th, 2016 at the US/Mexican border and will end in Vancouver, Canada totaling over 2700 kms. The route for the run along the Pacific Coast Highway was chosen to connect ocean coasts, remove international boundaries and bring attention to this global issue. “Most of our western technologies, plastic culture and production have had serious negative impacts on the environment, all over the world. I feel we have a responsibility to create solutions for areas ill equipped to deal with the waste issues.” states David.
Why Raja Ampat?
It is such a challenge to give justice to the beauty of the area and the feeling that it evokes in me (and I think would others) through verbal descriptions or even visuals. Factually Raja Ampat is considered to be the most marine bio-diverse area on the planet but I feel like it is an area that gets lost. Our society responds to loud crises. Raja Ampat is an area that is, and has been, experiencing an environmental crisis of pretty epic proportions. This crisis affects the ocean, it’s inhabitants and the West Papuan people but it has done so up until now in a relatively quiet way. The uniqueness and importance of Raja Ampat wasn’t even really discovered until it started being studied in 2001 and since then there have been several small success stories in terms of conservation efforts but the situation is such that much more needs to be done. I want Friendly Drifter to be a voice for Raja Ampat so that this wonder isn’t detrimentally harmed in an irreversible way. As humans we created the problem of polluting our oceans and we have not only the capability, but the obligation, to do everything in our power to fix it.
What is the special connection to this place?
I had a picture of Raja Ampat on my computer for years and made a plan (after 5 years) to actually get up and go on a kayaking trip there. I quit my job in financial advising and made the trip over. Once I landed that was it for me. The beauty of it is overwhelming. The people are kind and friendly and the children are so joyful. The significance and singularity of the area from an environmental standpoint is hard to compete with. As a Westerner you’d expect to go on vacation to somewhere so remote and find it pristine and untouched but this wasn’t the case. I quickly saw the need for waste management and recycling systems and bonded with my co-founder Ranny, a tour guide, over this shared realization. I knew that after I had realized this need that I couldn’t just go home and not do anything about it; I felt an inherent desire to help.
How did you prepare?
It was quite difficult for me to actually. I had planned to start training for the run in September of last year, which I did, but soon after I contracted malaria while in Raja Ampat. I was announced malaria free the beginning of January 2016 and started training from square one. My first run was under a kilometer. I trained as much as I could, running to increase my endurance but it was difficult given the effect malaria had on my system and the fact that I lost a lot of weight, a huge portion of it being muscle mass. I trained as best as I could given the time frame and circumstances.
Some incidents so far? injuries? encounters?
Blisters have been pretty rampant which is to be expected and hard to avoid being on my feet for almost 10 hours a day. I’m pretty achy most of the time which is just a result of the stress my joints and feet take on a daily basis. We only had one injury scare pretty early on around the 10-day mark. My left ankle was really tight and painful and at it’s worst point I could barely flex it at all. Thankfully I connected with a friend back home in Vancouver who is a sports medicine physician and he was able to help me through it. I did 10km on crutches but he recommended slowly putting weight on it and sure enough in a couple days it healed up and I haven’t had to deal with anything like that since.
What is your plan after the campaign?
We have big plans for Friendly Drifter and have to sit down and draw up concrete plans of how to achieve the initiatives we have set out. The purpose of this run is to raise awareness of what we are doing and to get together some funds so that we can accomplish our goals. We have done well up until this point creating our vision and doing beach cleanups etc., but in order for us to tackle some of our bigger, long term goals we need to have financial backing and a strong community of support behind us. I want FD to be a positive community that allows people to get involved in a way that creates powerful and long lasting positive change; we want to put the important conversation of our oceans’ health into action. We are going to be starting a more detailed and wider-reaching blog in order to build awareness and community. I am going to start researching the nuts and bolts of actually creating the waste management system that we have planned. We will be networking with people who have experience with things like this so that we can collaborate. We will start making small but strong steps towards fulfilling the goals that we have set out and the promises we have made to ourselves, Raja Ampat, and our donors.
We wish David the best of luck and congratulate already to his great mission!
Friendly Drifter Blog: https://www.gofundme.com/friendlydrifter
Funding page: https://www.gofundme.com/friendlydrifter
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