KARACHI: A Polish ultrarunner who ran over 1,000 kilometers on one of the world’s toughest trails in Pakistan’s mountainous north last month has said he undertook the journey to try to experience the difficulty and pain of children battling cancer.
Szymon Makuch covered the 1,000km distance in 19 days, starting his journey from Chitral in the country’s northwest and running to Gilgit in the north, then to Skardu and to Astore through the Deosai National Park, which is located on the world’s second highest Deosai plateaus at a height of 4,114 meters above sea level.
During the course of his run, Makuch passed by the majestic glaciers in Baltistan, the second highest peak of the world, K2, the Broad Peak near Skardu, the Batogah Pass and eventually reached the 4173-meter-high Babusar Top.
The Polish runner, who specializes in ultra-distance runs for fundraising purposes, has been in Pakistan to raise funds and awareness about children with cancer, together with Poland’s Herosi Foundation, the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Indus Hospital in the port city of Karachi.
“For me, running was not about the gold medals, or the records or the time, I just was looking at this as something more meaningful, so, I started to develop this idea to run for a charity cause,” Makuch told Arab News at Indus Hospital where he met children battling cancer.
“I reached the finish line on the Babusar Top, that’s it, but when I came here [hospital] today, I was very touched.”
Makuch’s mother herself is a cancer survivor and her fight with the disease motivated him to run for the sick, disabled and cancer patients, particularly child patients in Poland and now Pakistan, according to the Polish runner.
Running long distances in Pakistan was a “unique experience,” he said, but also included “huge challenges.”
“It’s very beautiful, the landscape, the mountains. In Deosai, I needed to run for 40 kilometers thousands of meters above the sea level, which is quite difficult,” Makuch said.
“So, that was very demanding for me, but I did it. Compared to the other places, Pakistan was the tough one. It was super crazy tough, but super crazy beautiful.”
Makuch has previously raised funds for patients with muscular atrophy and stroke through his expeditions and urged others to also run for a good cause and not just for themselves.
“Do it for a good cause, not only for yourself, not only for pictures on Instagram,” the ultrarunner said as he sat down to paint with child cancer survivors.
“Do it for those heroes, for those people, because they need your help.”