Pair trek to Shanghai in aid of Africa


They have slept in storm drains, camped in snow, and crossed Turkey in just two weeks.

Two adventurers are crossing Iran on the first leg of a 16,000km journey in aid of Irish charity Self Help Africa.

Their path follows old trade routes, hence their expedition name Silk Roads to Shanghai.

What makes it that bit more extraordinary is that they are travelling by exclusively self-propelled means – walking, running, cycling and kayaking.

Maghnus Collins Smyth (27) from Limerick and David Burns (28) from Derry set out from Istanbul several weeks ago, and are 400km east of the Turkish border and south of the Caspian Sea. “Like an Irish summer’s day here,” was how Burns described weather yesterday, after a fortnight of extremes ranging from two kilometres of snow to temperatures of 35 degrees.

Their 8,500km cycle across Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal will finish on the Tibetan plateau. After a brief respite in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, they will set out on a 1,000km-high altitude run through the Himalayas to the source of the Yangtse river in northern China’s Qinghai province.

“The run is the equivalent of 25 marathons in 31 days, and a friend from home, Gavin Redmond, will travel out to do it with us,” they said. The pair will raft and kayak their final 6,300km to the Yangtse’s rivermouth in Shanghai.