Deyl Kearin of Santa Barbara, Calif., might not be a world-class athlete, but he's willing to run more than 155 miles across the Sahara desert to raise money in an effort to fight worldwide poverty.
For six days starting Sunday, Kearin, 32, will participate in the “six marathons in six days” Sahara Race 2012, which begins near Cairo and traverses the UNESCO World Heritage site of Wadi Al-Hitan (Valley of the Whales) in Egypt before ultimately ending in front of the Pyramids of Giza. The Sahara Race will feature about 140 competitors from 36 countries and is part of the 4 Deserts race series. The goal of Kearin’s own Run 4 Poverty is to raise awareness and $50,000 for Opportunity International, an international nonprofit organization providing micro-finance loans to people in developing countries.
Playbook caught up with Kearin via email Thursday after his arrival in Egypt, and he answered a few questions about his race and charitable efforts:
Describe your training regimen?
"Putting lots of hours on my legs and getting my body used to exerting in heat. My training lasted a little under six months. During my peak training, my average weekend would look like this: 90-minute run on Friday, four-hour run on Saturday and a three-hour run on Sunday. During the week I would take one rest day, a day for Bikram yoga, a 90-minute speed workout and another light 90-minute run. This would mostly be done with a 10- to 15-pound backpack in the thick beach sand of Santa Barbara."
What are your concerns about your personal safety -- given the political conditions in Egypt -- and health during the six days?
"The actual race is way out in the desert and away from the conflict. I wasn’t concerned as the race has a great reputation and I knew the organizers wouldn’t put us in harm's way...The race is well-supported. Each day camp is set up and hot water is provided so that we can make dehydrated meals. Water is provided at every 10-kilometer checkpoint. I don’t plan on being in first place, so there should be plenty of footprints to follow in the sand. I didn’t sign up for a vacation."
Why run across the desert -- as opposed to something else -- to raise money and awareness for this cause?
"I knew I would have the most impact if I did something that was extreme and required mountains of effort. ... Being involved with this organization for the last decade has helped me realize that as extreme of circumstances I face next week in Africa, impoverished families in sub-Saharan Africa face far more oppressive circumstances every day."
Where do you stand financially in terms of your overall goal to raise $50,000?
"One of my personal lifetime goals is to give away one million dollars. I have no idea how I will do this, but this particular race seemed like the perfect start. That $200 per kilometer is significant because it represents the average cost of a micro-loan that helps Opportunity International’s loan clients lift themselves out of poverty."
What athletic past do you have and when did you decide you were mentally and physically up for this?
"Growing up, I was always surfing, mountain biking or doing other activities, but I was never drawn to competitive sports. After college, I started doing some triathlons and even a marathon. I was drawn to do an endurance event because of the mental and physical challenge it presented. Fear is a good motivator, and I think it’s really healthy to do things every once in a while that scare you."