Charity rowers trade turkey for noodles


A couple of Irish men swapped the traditional Christmas dinner for instant porridge, noodles and a snickers bar so they could continue a paddling the Yangtze river in China for charity before their visa runs out!

College buddies Maghnus Smyth (27) from Limerick and David Burns (27) from Coleraine, must finish their rafting and kayaking of it from source to mouth by January 12th.

The friends decided to ride, run and row 15,800 km along the old silk roads from Istanbul at the furthest eastern point of Asia and conclude their ultimate adventure by going down the mighty Yangtze river.

Their ‘Sand2Snow’challenge is all to aid Self Help Africa after both were deeply touched by the daily struggle to survive faced by people there which they witnessed on a charity cycle in Africa in 2009.

As they pulled off the river for a few minutes this week, after completing 900km in the previous 20 days, Maghnus said, “we have 850 km left to get to Shanghai but time is tight. We re-stocked in a nearby town so we could keep going for the following ten days.”

The pressure to complete the length of the river in time means they decided “we cannot afford to risk taking Christmas Day off so we will be paddling straight through until at least the 2nd of January.”

Instead of tucking in to turkey, ham, sprouts and all the trimmings they will instead have instant food they can make on the riverbank.

“A bar of Snickers and instant noodles taste amazing when you are truly hungry and exhausted in a tent at the end of 9 hours paddling! Our Christmas day food consisted of instant porridge with three tablespoons of sugar for breakfast.”

“We had two bars of Snickers during the day and in the evening 100 grams of instant noodles, 50 grams of dried cured pork and a sachet of Nescafe!”

Self Help Africa said they are, “two exceptional and inspirational guys and we feel very fortunate to have the two of them as supporters.”

“They have been friends of our charity for the past number of years- having previously cycled from Ireland to South Africa and back to support our work. As they passed through Africa on that trip they got a chance to see our work, and got a real sense of who we are and what we do.”

By the end of this expedition they will have cycled 8,500 km from Istanbul to Kathmandu, run 1,000km over the Tibetan Plateau to the source of the Yangtze and then paddled all 6,300 km of the river.

Just as importantly they will have raised more than €30,000 which the charity says is “an exceptional amount in the current difficult economic climate.”

When the guys complete their marathon river trip they will team up with the Irish community in Shanghai for a fundraiser on the 12th January before they finally head for home the easy way – by airplane!