Chased by thunderstorms, pain & adversity to support a good cause

Over the last year, Ed Sayce and Ruth Baker both initiated personal journeys to push forward AzuKo's mission. Ed completed his first marathon in under 3 hours 45 minutes, and Ruth devoured 1001 miles.

Having been chased by thunderstorms, pain and adversity, what it means to support humanitarian work has taken on new meaning for our fundraising heroes. In a candid reflection, they discuss their adventures and connection to AzuKo.

Ed Sayce

Edward Sayce / MTT

Ed has known the AzuKo team since 2012, when he worked as a volunteer with SAFE in northwest Bangladesh. He joined the team to build a new double-storey bamboo house for the Rana family in Jogen Babu Maath slum.

His marathon efforts raised a whopping £1384.

  • Tell us a little bit about the challenge you took on...

I've always wanted to physically push myself and I had never run a marathon so decided in a 'weak' moment in May that 2017 was to be the year in which to run my first. I had run a couple of half marathons previously and kept fit, but the challenge of a marathon was another level in terms of commitment and effort.

It was fantastic to raise funds for AzuKo. The work they undertake is so relevant but often overlooked by traditional social and international development organisations. I wanted to provide support to enable them to continue growing the scope and influence of their projects.
  • What were you thinking when you crossed the finish line?

About beating 3hr 45 mins. The big clock above the finish line was looking like it might tick over my target, and I wasn't going to have that! I was also buzzing from the support of the crowd; they were simply fantastic and really helped. The uplifting effect was so much, that there were stories of several people speeding up to such an extend that they pulled muscles in the last 100m.

  • Who would you like to thank?

I'd like to thank every single person who donated on my behalf to AzuKo. I have been overwhelmed with the support people have given me (both through messages and donations).

  • Why was this experience meaningful?

It staved off my midlife crisis for another year! But in all seriousness... it gave me a real sense of achievement. The feeling of working towards a goal and then achieving it is the most satisfying thing.

Ruth Baker

Ruth Baker / Ryder Architecture

Ruth is an AzuKo champion, and has been since we began. As well as supporting our projects with her design skills, she set herself the challenge to devour 1000 miles over the course of 2016/17.

Ruth raised a fabulous £554 for AzuKo, and CRASH.

  • What has the last year been like for you?

The aim was to run and cycle 1000 miles... the only catch was it had to be an official organised event, so the commute to work didn't count. In order to achieve the distance, I undertook 19 events in total. It took 90 hours, 45 minutes and 40 seconds.

  • Who is someone who donated to your cause, you'd like to highlight?

Can I mention five amazing people, who were game enough to actually join me for events. They are Emma French, Ronan Rasheed, Cathy Russell, Alex Menezes and my sister Claire Baker. I need to give an extra special thanks to my sister who, as well as running a 10K with me, also let me crash on her sofa and drove to events on the south coast. Without her I would never have been able to reach them!

  • What have you learnt?

I was surprised how mentally tough the challenge was and I found I put a lot of pressure on myself. The planning and logistics of getting to events turned out to be a challenge in itself. Once across the start line, running or cycling, I spent many hours by myself and, when battling with a second puncture of the day in the rain, it took a lot of guts to keep going.

Mile 141 was the toughest... I took on the Kings of the Downs cycle sportive. After 11 hours around the hills of Surrey, on my own, in the rain, I crossed the finish line and realised that I still had 859 miles to go. This, teamed with a bit of a crazy time at work, was a huge blow to my motivation. I’m really grateful for support from family, friends and the AzuKo team who helped me push on.

Most people I have spoken to about it are either in awe of the distance or think I'm mad. I hope however, I have inspired a few people to take on a challenge of their own.

  • What are you interested to see the money that you raised go towards?

The reason I support AzuKo is because as an architect I know how much good design can improve people's lives. As the challenge has taken over a year it has been great to see projects like JBM slum upgrading go from design to completion... and getting updates on this project definitely helped motivate me to keep going. I hope that the money will help similar grassroot level projects really make a difference to communities.

Inspired by our fundraising heroes, and would like to join #teamazuko? Check out our fundraising resources, or get in touch.