Footwear brand BIRKENSTOCK is sponsoring two South African cyclists looking to deliver the match whistles for the opening games of both the women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in October and the men’s World Cup in France in September 2023.
Ron Rutland and Adam Nunn embarked on their 600-day, 45 000-kilometre adventure from DHL Stadium in Cape Town on 16 January, with a prologue seeing the pair ride their first leg to Windhoek. Rutland and Nunn will ultimately travel through 48 countries across six continents.
The goal is to raise $500 000 (R7.6m) for ChildFund Rugby – https://www.childfundrugby.org/ – which gives young people from disadvantaged communities the opportunity to play, learn and grow. To support the charity drive, fans can “buy” a kilometre of their journey, which they are selling for $10 (R152) for each of the 45 000 kilometres.
“We’re both curious individuals and massive rugby fans, who love cycling, travel and living life on our own terms. So, we are combining these attributes to explore the world of rugby from the back of our bikes, while on this fundraising mission,” said Rutland.
The first leg was sponsored by BIRKENSTOCK, who are supplying the duo with footwear for their epic journey.
“BIRKENSTOCKS offer exactly the type of comfort your feet demand after a long day cycling in cleats,” said Nunn. “The brand shares our spirit of adventure and is all about comfort, which is why we approached them to support us. We will also cycle in our BIRKENSTOCKS whenever possible, to give our feet some fresh air.”
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While the trip will include several flights, the longest unbroken cycling leg will be about 22 000 kilometres from Santiago in Chile to New York City.
“We will average about 100 kilometres per day, be it in the heat of the Namibian summer, to the mid-winter freeze of Georgia, to the altitude of the Andes in South America. We have the adventure of a lifetime ahead of us,” said Rutland.
Between 2013 and 2015, Rutland completed a similar trip, cycling 42 000 kilometres on his own to reach England in time for the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Then, in 2019, together with James Owens, he rode 20 000 kilometres through 27 countries in 231 days to reach Tokyo in time for the opening game of the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Follow the adventure on @birkenstockza and @racetorwc and support ChildFund Rugby by buying one kilometre of the journey on the Race to Rugby World Cup GivenGain page: https://www.givengain.com/e/racetorwcprologue/.