Follow the ambitious journey of runner, Dave Chamberlain, in collaboration with BirdLife South Africa, as he attempts to complete 50 consecutive ultramarathons in aid of The African Penguin Relocation Project, culminating in the 50th Anniversary Two Oceans Marathon. Stay tuned for daily updates on Dave’s progress, penguins, and more.
Meet Dave. Champion runner, championing penguins. Formally a scuba instructor, he discovered his passion for running by happy accident. To date, he’s run the length of Argentina, crossed Canada, and run through the Namibian desert to South Africa. Did we mention Dave’s a nutter? For his next feat, he’ll be attempting to complete 50 consecutive ultra-marathons in support of BirdLife South Africa’s African Penguin Relocation Project, culminating in the 50th anniversary of the Two Oceans Marathon. All in all, that’s a whopping 2800 km on the clock - roughly the distance from Cape Town to Johannesburg, and back again. Holy mackerel. Join us in this incredible journey and follow along for daily race updates. Flipper five, Dave.
The African penguin (Spheniscus demersus), also known as the jackass penguin and black-footed penguin, is a species of penguin, confined to southern African waters. It is also widely known as the "jackass" penguin for its loud, donkey-like bray, although several related species of South American penguins produce the same sound.
Like all extant penguins it is flightless, with a streamlined body, and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine habitat. Adults weigh on average 2.2–3.5 kg (4.9–7.7 lb) and are 60–70 cm (24–28 in) tall. It has distinctive pink patches of skin above the eyes and a black facial mask; the body upperparts are black and sharply delineated from the white underparts, which are spotted and marked with a black band. The pink gland above their eyes helps them to cope with changing temperatures. When the temperature gets hotter, the body of the African penguin sends more blood to these glands to be cooled by the air surrounding it. This then causes the gland to turn a darker shade of pink.
Yesterday we celebrated World Wildlife Day. It’s a reminder to reconnect with our natural world - both above and below water - and to reflect on what kind of world we want to leave behind. We all have a part to play, in whatever way we can – take Dave for example. Dave isn’t a super athlete (or so he says). He’s just a guy who loves to run and is doing what he does best as a means to champion penguins and planet. Go Dave!
Today marks day 3 out of 50 consecutive ultramarathons that he is running to raise funds for The African Penguin Relocation Project. Checkout his progress thus far.
As a way to say thank you for the donations, we've teamed up with Cape Town artist, Paula Breetzke, to create a beautiful watercolour of penguins doing what they do best - "flying" underwater. Recreated from a photograph taken by Chris Fallows, the painting captures the beauty and grace of penguins in their element. For each tier of donation, there is a different gift related to the painting.
Perhaps you’re perplexed as to why we want to relocate the African Penguin? What’s wrong with Boulders Beach you might ask? Well, in a clamshell, west coast colonies are struggling to survive due to a lack of food. Checkout the film, A Place for Penguins, by Tom Parry and discover the story behind BirdLife South Africa's crazy idea.
Today marks day 6 of 50 consecutive ultramarathons, of which part of the 56 km route is pictured here, that Dave is running in aid of The African Penguin Relocation Project.
Every day he will be running the same route as the Two Oceans Marathon, which straddles the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, culminating in the 50th Anniversary of the event.
Quite a feat, but consider that African Penguins from colonies on the Atlantic west coast are swimming these distances every day in an effort to find food. Our project aims to establish additional colonies on the east coast and ensure their survival.
Day 7 and going strong. We caught up with Dave to see how he’s feeling one week into the challenge - only 43 more runs to go!
Since the turn of the 20th century, we’ve lost 99% of the African Penguin population. 99%. Let that sink in.
Today, the greatest threat they face is a lack of the fish they rely on. Sardine stocks - their favourite food - have shifted from the west coast, where they have traditionally been more abundant. As a result, we’re seeing their numbers decline even further.
Our African Penguin Relocation Project aims to establish new safe spaces for penguins to breed in areas with lots of fish, and help to ensure the future of Africa’s only penguin.
Meet BirdLife South Africa scientist Christina Hagen, the brains behind The African Penguin Relocation Project, pictured with the ingenious decoys (yep - those aren’t real penguins).
Christina joined BirdLife South Africa in 2010, studying the movements of African Penguins and pushing to change the management of the fishing industry to take the needs of penguins and the ecosystem into account. While the relocation project has been thought about for several years now, it was only in 2015 that there was enough funding for Christina to start working on it full-time. “Support from Pamela Isdell allowed us to complete the initial phases of a feasibility study, monitoring of predators and fish stocks at the two potential sites and completing a risk assessment and approvals at one of the sites, De Hoop Nature Reserve. Her support has also allowed for the completion of a predator-proof fence and the installation of remote monitoring cameras and decoys,” says Christina.
Funds raised by the 505050 campaign will go towards more decoys and running costs for the project, as well as to make more progress at the second site we’re interested in at Plettenberg Bay.
It’s thanks to the hard work and dedication of scientists like Christina, conservationists, and supporters, that enable us to make a difference to our country’s bird life.
Today Dave unofficially joined the ranks of the Blue Number club - an elite group of runners who have completed 10 or more ultramarathons. And with 40 more runs left to go, he’s only just warming up. Flipper five Dave!
SABC News catches up with runner Dave Chamberlain, the brawn, and BirdLife South Africa scientist Christina Hagen, the brains, behind the 505050 campaign and The African Penguin Relocation Project.
A high flipper five to Pick n Pay for sponsoring R10 000 towards keeping Dave hydrated and nourished throughout his 50 Two Oceans Ultras in aid of The African Penguin Relocation Project.
We and the penguins salute you!
Notice anything fishy about these penguins? Well, for starters, they’re not all real penguins. Crafted by hand, these life-like models are, in fact, decoys that will create the illusion of an established penguin colony at the De Hoop Nature Reserve. They will help attract real, yet somewhat perplexed, penguins. The idea being that if penguins that are passing-by notice the decoy penguins nesting, they’ll think it’s safe to roost.
By donating to the project in honour of Dave’s epic feat (feet?), you’ll help to supply more decoys like these and other attraction methods that will help make the project a success.
We checked in with Dave en route one of his runs to see how he’s fairing out there and, well, it was windy. Today marks two weeks into his challenge and just past the quarter-way mark with 36 more days (and ultramarathons) to go. You can do it Dave!
While rather clumsy on land, the African Penguin is a champion swimmer and can swim at 8 km/h - the same speed as long-distance runner Dave Chamberlain on land- but reach speeds of up to 20 km/h while hunting.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”- Margaret Mead
17 days and near one million three hundred thousand steps down - here’s a look at Dave’s stats to date.
It’s day 18 and we’re 16% towards our goal of raising R150,000 in aid of our African Penguin Relocation Project. A big flipper five to all our penguin pals who have donated so far. Funds raised will go towards securing additional decoys, translocation of birds, ongoing monitoring and maintenance, and if all goes well, the creation of another safe breeding space.
There’s still a way to go, so if you’d like to lend a helping flipper you can do so here. Every little bit helps
Due to a lack of prey fish in their territories, African Penguins from Atlantic west coast colonies are going hungry. As a result, they are struggling to raise their chicks.
That’s where the African Penguin Relocation Project comes in. Our plan is to create safe breeding spaces on the east coast in areas with lots of fish to attract new colonies and, in doing so, safeguard future generations of African Penguins.
Marathon distances are all in day’s work for the African Penguin. Research shows that they can travel between 37 and 63 km per day in an effort to fatten up ahead of moulting season. And if you think that’s extreme, they have sharks and seals to contend with.
Day 21 and time for our weekly check in with Dave. With over 1000 km on the clock and 1624 km still to go, the challenge is only just warming up.
Just keep swimming Dave, just keep swimming.
Dubbed the most beautiful marathon in the world, the Two Oceans Marathon follows a route along the Cape Peninsula taking in epic views of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.
Today marks day 22 of 50 marathons that Dave is running in the build up to the 50th Anniversary Two Oceans in aid of the African Penguin Relocation Project.
Here’s a closer peek at part of the race route which journeys through the breathtaking False Bay area - also home to the African Penguin.
Working closely with CapeNature, and other stakeholders we have identified the De Hoop Nature Reserve as a suitable site to relocate African Penguins from the Atlantic west coast.
Penguins tried to breed at De Hoop Nature Reserve naturally in the early 2000s but abandoned the colony due to predation. The waters around the De Hoop Nature Reserve (5 km out to sea) have been declared a Marine Protected Area and we know penguins from Dassen Island on the west coast frequently forage in this area through GPS tracking data.
With the installation of a fence to deter predators and attraction methods such as penguin decoys and penguin calls broadcast from speakers, we hope to show real penguins it’s a safe place to rest one’s feathers and, if successful, start a new and sustainable colony.
With everything set up and ready for the penguins at De Hoop, we’ll continue investigating another site in Plettenberg Bay site with the aid of funds raised on 505050.org and the support of the Nature’s Valley Trust and BirdLife Plettenberg Bay.
Day 24 of 50 and Dave is smashing the kilometres (and the ice creams). Here’s a snapshot of his stats to date.
Day 25 and we’re officially halfway to the finish line. Let’s give this man a round of flippers.
Last night we caught up with Dave for a celebratory milkshake in honour of his 25th consecutive Two Oceans ultramarathon. That’s some serious mileage on the clock (1400 km to be exact).
Here’s a rundown of how he’s getting on from the champ himself. See what we did there?
Dave is making the headlines! Thanks to the Weekend Argus for the clamtastic feature on our 505050 campaign and the African Penguin Relocation Project via IOL News. Take a gander.
Every day is formal Friday when you’re an African Penguin.
Show some love for the James Bond of the animal kingdom by donating to our African Penguin Relocation Project and help ensure the future of this dapper flapper.
Are you taking the Earth Hour challenge? Tonight at 8:30 pm, remember to log out, unplug, switch off, and reconnect to nature. It’s ours to enjoy and ours to protect.
African Penguins are good indicators of ecosystem health - think of them as the “canaries in the coal mine” of our oceans. Because they depend on a very specific diet of sardine and anchovy and because they swim, not fly, they can’t travel as far as other seabirds. This means their population shows the impact of reduced food faster than other species, making them good environmental indicators.
Day 31 and coming in hot! Check out Dave’s weekly stats round up.
Day 32 and Dave’s hard work is paying off. Together we’ve raised R50,916 of our R150,000 goal in aid of the African Penguin Relocation Project. Flipper fives to all you champs for your amazing support.
All funds raised will go towards establishing a sustainable new colony on the east coast - a world-first for the African Penguin.
But we still have some way to the finish line. You can help us make history by pledging any amount towards every run Dave completes here
Waddling into Wednesday like…
Help us ensure the future of our clumsy but ever-so-lovable African Penguin by pledging towards every run Dave completes here.
Unique to Southern Africa, the African Penguin is a proud and important part of our heritage. As South Africans it’s our local and global obligation to do everything we can to conserve our fellow feathered residents.
By establishing new colonies further east, we aim to create a safe haven to relocate penguins from the Atlantic west coast where they are struggling to survive.
Another day, another marathon done and dusted. Here’s how Dave’s feeling five weeks into the challenge.
That feeling when you still have 15 more marathons to run until you can sleep in past 4:30 am.
We’re sure Dave’s questioning his decision to run 50 back-to-back marathons right about now. You can help him along this journey by pledging any amount towards every run he completes over the 50 day period, with all funds raised going towards our African Penguin Relocation Project.
Video footage via
Kyle Welter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHmFqh8N69E
Animal Breeds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2ID5jSvRic&t=57s
Bad Dalai Lama https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fg8ttPtDvzU&t=62s
Brett Barker https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz6dqY4x0TU
Great Big Story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P68lf0JAMBg
Nat Geo WILD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYHWbI46Q5I&t=42s
Paul Brown https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqNeUmTry9Q
Over the past century the African Penguin has survived habitat destruction, marine pollution, egg looting, and depleted fish stocks; all of which have taken their toll. Today, a lack of food owing to migrating fish stocks threatens its survival once more.
While they’ve proven to be a resilient bunch, they’re not able to adapt fast enough to a rapidly changing environment. Quite simply, they need all the help they can get if their species is to make a recovery.
By creating new colonies further east, we hope to bolster their numbers and safeguard our beloved penguin against any further declines.
Running for those who can only waddle, here’s a look at Dave’s race by numbers.
Pictured is part 3 of 4 of the Two Oceans route map featuring Chapman’s Peak section and Dave’s favourite leg of the race with its breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re driving through the area, look out for him between 9:45 and 11:00 am each morning and, if you see him, be sure to give him a honk.
Every day he’s waddlin’.
We’re officially at the 10-day countdown until Dave completes his 50th consecutive Two Oceans ultramarathon. Way to go, Dave.
With 10 days left we have reached 39% of our goal. There has never been a better time to show your love for our iconic, beloved, slightly wobbly African Penguin. Every little bit helps - let’s do this.
Funds raised will go towards monitoring and maintenance, decoys, translocation of birds, running costs at the De Hoop site, as well as progress at the second site we’re interested in. Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far.
You can make your pledge and champion the African Penguin here.
We’re down to single digits! With just nine more marathons to go, Dave is feeling positive and confident about the last stretch.
You don’t have to run 50 marathons to make a difference. Everyone has the power to do good in their own small way. Whether adding your voice to a cause you care about or making more sustainable choices, it’s those small bits that can help turn the tide for the better.
The African Penguin is much more than an insta-worthy pic. Being a major tourist drawcard, they contribute millions to South Africa’s economy, not to mention their priceless contribution towards sea life. By fertilising the areas surrounding their colonies, they increase the abundance of intertidal species and help other seabirds forage by pushing fish up to the surface. On behalf of the African Penguin, you’re welcome.
45 back-to-back marathons in the bag and counting.
Part 4 of 4 of the route map that comprises the Two Oceans Marathon - of which Dave has successfully completed 46 times in a row. Just four more to go!
Meet Pamela Isdell, the extraordinary woman who has supported the African Penguin Relocation Project from the start (providing funds for site research, a full-time staff member and construction of the predator-proof fence at De Hoop). More recently, Pamela announced a further $150 000 donation towards the project. Growing up in Africa, with an abiding love of nature (birds in particular), Pamela became BirdLife South Africa’s Patron for the African Penguin in 2013. We, and South Africa’s birdlife, salute you. Flipper five Pamela!
Today, fewer than 22,000 African Penguin breeding pairs remain in the world. This number has shrunk from an estimated two million at the start of the 20th century, due to human activities. To put that into perspective - that’s 99%. The time to act is now if we’re to reverse this downward trend.
One day to go! It’s day 49 and we’re in the home-stretch. Here’s how Dave’s feeling ahead of the big day.
Today’s the day - the 50th Anniversary Two Oceans and Dave’s 50th consecutive run to help raise funds for our African Penguin Relocation Project. And what an incredible journey it has been.
In the past 50 days, Dave has smashed a jaw-dropping 2800 km completing 50 Two Oceans ultra marathons in 50 consecutive days. In the wise words of one of our backers, Karin Wilson: “What you are doing has blown my mind. On behalf of the penguins, thanks for being a nutter”.
But he’s not the only champ. Together, with your help, we have raised a total of R122 000 towards our African Penguin Relocation Project. The penguins, Dave, and all of us at BirdLife South Africa, salute everyone who has followed this crazy journey and helped make this project a reality. Flipper fives all round.
Dave’s race might be over, but our race to relocate the African Penguin is just beginning. Stay posted for more news and updates as we embark on the next phase of our project. Donations are still open - join us in preserving and protecting our favourite African wobbler.