Jeff Dean and wife Natalie Samson jog along a dirt road during their 500km run alongside the Mekong River last week. Photo Supplied
Monday, 24 January 2011 15:00 H S Manjunath
American Jeff Dean and his Canadian wife Nathalie Samson completed their 500-kilometre run across Cambodia on Thursday afternoon, ending their 11-day mission to help the cause of clean water access in rural areas.
The couple set out from Stung Treng province on a route that followed the course of the Mekong River, ending in Prey Veng province.
“Eleven days and 11 marathons,” said Dean, recalling their incredible feat of endurance.
Taking heart from their previous 240km run between Angkor Wat in Siem Reap and Preah Vihear temple last year, the Ottawa-based pair chose to return for a more challenging run along the Mekong in the hope that their exploits would yield greater benefits for the cause they were championing. Their charity organisation One Filter One Family helps provide wells and bio-sand filters for selected villages in the Kingdom.
Both Jeff and Nathalie are counting this as a success well beyond their own estimation.
“We have seen and experienced a Cambodia that is very special,” Dean told The Post on Thursday.
“The run was epic in its scenery, taught us more about managing sports hydration needs, challenged us with a scorpion sting, a dog bite, a few running-induced strains and pain ... and filled us with the laughter and smiles of the Cambodian people which we will carry in our mind’s eye forever.”
The runners revealed they were made to feel most welcome by the families that they stayed with during their trip.
“We were overwhelmed by this hospitality,” said Dean.
The couple conceded their run would not have been a success without the support of Paul Hufford and Bunna from the Australian Firefighters International, who drove with them for the entire distance. Dean claimed their “route choice was amazing and exactly what we’d hoped for, and more”.
They also gave special thanks to the Trailblazers Foundation, an organisation that shares the same goals as One Filter One Family, which they have supported for the past two years.
“We will continue [to help support this cause] whenever we can,” said Dean, hinting of another epic journey to come.