This amazing group of people are the support crew who make the challenge happen and the 12 cyclists/runners who will be cycling from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg in 10 days and then running Comrades on day 11 – No small feat!

What makes this group of people truly special is not their ability to put their bodies through such an epic test of endurance but rather that they are aiming to raise R1 000 000.00 for Amabeadibeadi charities while doing it.

These people have serious heart, inspire everyone around them and never settle for being ordinary. They inspire us and because we know that they will inspire you we’re going to tell their stories!
Today we feature Danielle Mascher aka. Dani. 

Danielle Mascher is an Unogwaja first, not only will she be taking on the role as an ‘Unogwaja’ by cycling and running Comrades (her third), she will also be maintaining her role on the support crew behind the scenes with the Unogwaja website (A must visit).

Unogwaja 2014: Danielle Mascher That sounds like a lot of work to us! Something potentially difficult to balance, but Dani just smiles about it (like she does about everything!) “We have an amazing support crew (real heroes) behind us that’ll be helping out with some of my support tasks during the event which I am so grateful for! But I really do love being involved in so many aspects of the event and will do whatever is required (luckily there are 24 hours in a day & I function quite well on very little sleep!)

That may be so but good luck to the support crew for waking her up! Danielle Mascher has been known to sleep through many alarms 😉 Missing races and red sock friday runs… Haha! Yes, I’m quite a pro at using a ‘snooze button’ and I can sleep though pretty much anything, so good luck to them!  She however, does not foresee this as being a problem during Unogwaja, The excitement of getting out there and being able to spend another day riding through our beautiful country with amazing friends will be more than enough reason to get up at the crack of dawn an get going.”

What might be a problem for her? My biggest challenges will most probably be: Trying to avoid a ‘Stoffing’; punctures (by bike seems to attract them); and hills (I’m not a fan!)”

Dani is new to cycling, just taking it up right before last years Unogwaja and joining in on day 1’s cycle, but she has been training and setting herself up to handle the endurance of The Unogwaja by spending as much time as possible riding her bike. She Alternates between running and cycling and on weekends she goes out and rides for as long as possible. “Luckily, staying in and still being new to Cape Town, every weekend long ride turns into an adventure to find somewhere new and beautiful – I love it!!  Oh, and I haven’t fallen off my bike for quite a while now, so I must be doing something right 

Cycling is no doubt the largest part of the challenge and a huge focus needs to be put on the cycling training, but, Comrades itself is no easy feat especially after such a physical challenge of cycling 10 days prior, every day, for 12 hours! She has run Comrades twice before which gives her the benefit of experience but being able to handle the run after the cycling is nervewracking…

Unogwaja 2014: Danielle Mascher “I’m more excited than nervous, but yes, the nerves are there… I absolutely love the Comrades Marathon and running as part of the ‘Red Love Train’ again this year will make it even more incredible. The encouragement and support of these amazing guys and girls is unparalleled, and I can’t imagine a better way of running Comrades! And as a bonus, it’s a down run – which I definitely prefer!”

She has adapted her training this time around by using a programme as a guideline and alternating between running & cycling. “I feel confident that I’m on the right track. I’m loving being able to be alternate between the disciplines and not only run like I have in the past.”

Staying fuelled during endurance events is an important part of any training program and Dani has it down with one of our favourites 32Gi.

I love 32Gi products – Especially their Endure Tabs during long rides and runs and then ice cold Recover (or a chocolate Steri Stumpie) afterwards” 

The main question on everyone’s minds is WHAT ON EARTH MAKES THESE PEOPLE DECIDE TO TAKE ON THIS CHALLENGE?! We asked Dani just that…

Unogwaja 2014: Danielle Mascher “The message of positivity, hope, love and passion that Unogwaja portrays is almost indescribable. I was lucky enough to be part of the behind the scenes support crew during 2013 as well as joining the team for the day 1 cycle and running Comrades with the “Red Love Train” and it was a journey that I will never forget and that has changed my life in a way I could never have imagined. It truly is something so special and inspiring & having been selected to be part of the next chapter is a true honour! It has opened by eyes to a way of life in which anything is possible when you follow you heart. After seeing so many people being inspired by this amazing group of people and seeing the positive impact that they had on so many lives (and how much fun they had while doing so) I can’t understand how anyone would possibly not want to get involved! I want to help show as many people as I can what’s possible if you surround yourself with positivity and happiness and always GO WITH YOUR HEART!!”

Dani’s positive outlook shines through and lucky for the rest of the team, she’s bringing it with her on the journey. I can see the positive side to any situation; some say maybe a bit too much  So I will be able to help motivate, support and bring back the smiles when things get a bit serious. I can also be quite stubborn and never back down from a challenge, so giving up will simply not be an option and I plan on carrying on smiling from start to finish.”

Unogwaja 2014: Danielle Mascher Getting from start to finish isn’t the only task at hand. The challenge is largely about giving back and make a difference is people’s lives and this year the challenge is aiming to raise a whopping R1 Million for charity. Dani has taken on to raise at least R40G of that and her portion will be going to the Starfish Greathearts foundation. Why Starfish?

“I have been supporting Starfish for quite few years so I think it’s fantastic that I now get to support them through Unogwaja. Starfish works towards bringing life, hope & opportunity to HIV orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa and by supporting them I can be part of this great organisation and make a real difference in the lives of these children.”

Any contribution made towards starfish will help aid their vision, which is that every child orphaned and/or made vulnerable by HIV or AIDS in South Africa receives life, hope and opportunity. These funds are used to invest in the future of these children and ensuring that they become effective citizens in their own communities.

Unogwaja 2014: Danielle Mascher R40 000 is a lot of money and it will require planning, dedication and lots of support for her to reach it “I still have quite a long way to go before reaching my initial target of R40,000, but I’m hard at work to make this happen and hopefully raise even more! I will be hosting 2 fundraising events, one in Cape Town and one in Johannesburg, and I’m positive that with the right support these will be a great success, enabling me to raise a significant amount of the children supported by the Starfish Greathearts Foundation. We are all relying on the support of everyone out there to help us reach our target of raising R1 Million, but together, we can and will make this a reality.”

To support Danielle Mascher & Starfish visit her fundraising page & follow her on twitter to stay up to date with her progress!

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