Written by Damien Schumann
Photography by Zac Zinn
Run West, in support of Protect the West Coast, is a movement that shines a light on the beautiful West Coast, revealing all its beauty and vulnerabilities while under threat from prospecting and coastal mining.
Pippa Dickson making running on sand look easy. Chapter 3, Day 1.
With 250kms of the West Coast traversed on foot, Dom de Jesus is starting to speak. He’s a man of action who in his own words needed to do something in order to say something. This is a beautiful trait, to be able to observe that something is out of place and then step into the unknown until an answer becomes clear. Brave, and vulnerable. For this surfer boy who grew up catching waves between Brand se Baai and Elands, it was the realisation that he knew the waters but not the coastline under threat of uncontrolled mining that made him change tack.
Today he goes by the name Dom the Runner, after he decided the best way to get to know the coastline before it is totally massacred and inaccessible to the public, was going to be on foot. So he commenced his epic Run West.
Dom de Jesus, Chapter 3, "Chapter of the Birds".
For those who choose to engage with their surroundings, without the defence of car windows, electric fences, or a guided itinerary… few places offer more depth.
Turns out the Transkei and Weskus have more in common than remote beaches and seismic surveys.
Twenty-five runners joined for the third chapter of the run between Elands Bay and St Helena Bay. All self supported. It explored 30km stretches of pristine beach with birdlife beyond imagination. The runners concertina as the surroundings change and each has their ups and downs. It brings pleasant camaraderie, and a sign of a turning tide.
For Dom, each person here is a sign of growth in standing against illegal mining, but he wants the runners to have their space, to develop their own association with the land, as one is only a part of something once you have integrated into it.The West Coast is infamous for its mystery. Harsh and inaccessible its not the first port of call for most holiday makers. But, for those who choose to engage with their surroundings, without the defence of car windows, electric fences, or a guided itinerary… few places offer more depth.
Pippa Dickson, Taryn King and Shaf Gordon looking fresh after a quick hydration stop, Day 2.
Damien Schumann finds a treasure, Day 3.
This is what Dom speaks of these days. It took many kilometres of feeling unsure and fearful of expressing his personal feelings to make things clear to him. But he left those feelings somewhere between his two knee injuries and being thrown off the MSR mine. Today he says he feels safest in the wild, following the winds, birds and coastline.
Jacques Ackerman, Simon Pollock, Damien Schumann and Courtney Taljaard savouring some rare West Coast shade.
Run West is continuing all the way to Cape Point in Cape Town. As we move further away from the mines, we start entering what we are trying to maintain. The beauty and diversity of the estuaries and nature reserves is still largely in tact, although the invisible blanket of mining prospects, among other challenges, fall over them. These are the places Dom wants you to fall in love with. So you can experience them while they are here, and understand what we stand to lose.
If you would like to have this experience, join Run West for Chapter 4 on 19-21 March 2022, as they run from St Helena Bay to Saldanha Bay. It is free, but you need to be self sufficient. It’s also as much fun to crew as it is to run, so there are no restrictions to your involvement.
Run West takes strides in support of Protect the West Coast.
The Chapter 3 team.