Nick Coats is not someone to do things by halves. Wanting to raise funds for CCF, he came up with the idea of completing not one but two laps of Singapore, 240kms in total, by running and cycling.
To make it more interesting, he set himself a self imposed time limit of completing the epic challenge back-to-back in under 30 hours.
Nick, who didn’t undertake much training for the mammoth task and had never run as far as 120km before, admits it looked to some that he had given himself an impossible undertaking.
But with the motivation of raising money for CCF, Nick finished the feat of endurance just before 1pm Singapore time on 13 December, clocking in with a total time of 29 hours and 54 minutes, just six minutes under his 30 hour schedule.
Along the way, he battled cramps, pain and fatigue. But the effort was well worth it. Nick smashed his USD $2,500 target, raising USD $3,279 (£2,400) for CCF to help some of the most impoverished children and families in Cambodia have the chance of a better life.
Nick, 33, says he was “blown away and humbled’ by the support of those donating to the cause and all the well wishes he’s received.
Originally from the UK but now living in Singapore for four years where he works as an oil broker, Nick’s interest in Cambodia was sparked during several visits to the country.
“Going back in more recent times, especially with my wife Georgina, we’ve been struck by the children and the young population, and wanted to do something,” says Nick.
“When you’re in Cambodia, you’re constantly faced with leaflets and posters highlighting the importance of ‘responsible tourism’ and to give via the correct channels rather than just giving while you’re there in an unchecked manner. So when we came back, Georgina , who had heard of CCF, reached out.”
Having an understanding of how it [CCF] impacts Cambodians directly, was really something that rang quite true to our hearts
Both felt CCF was an organization where any money donated would have a direct and transformative impact on the ground in Cambodia, where help is needed the most.
“We are both jointly passionate about doing what we can for this great cause,” says Nick.
The idea of a charity challenge for CCF was inspired by his gym running a similar event over the festive season.
While Nick keeps fit running, cycling and training, and has completed ultra marathons, he wanted to push himself further than ever before with a challenge that captured people’s imaginations - and their donations.
On a Saturday morning at 7am, Nick headed off on the first leg, a 120km cycle, accompanied by a friend, and finished in exactly five hours.
After a seven-hour rest, he set off on the run. Timing meant that most of the run would be at night to avoid the worst of the humid Singapore climate.
A support team - including his wife, Georgina - made sure there was water and food for Nick to refuel at rest stops along the route. Friends also joined him for some parts of the run to set the pace and keep morale high.
It was never an option to give up.
“But during a lot of the run I was by myself, which was tough. It was a battle,” says Nick.
“It’s dark and no-one there, at times with very long stretches of nothingness, it was hard going. The feeling that it was a never-ending task made me feel particularly emotional on two occasions, but I just had to keep going and continue the hard mileage.”
Nick’s military background - he was in the British Army for seven years - gave him the edge to win the mental battle when the going got tough.
“I’ve been in tough situations before and it definitely gave me the skillset to just keep pushing and make sure that I could actually achieve the goal,” he says.
“It was just a case of putting one foot in front of the other and having the mental resilience to get through it.”
Nick hopes the money his marathon effort has raised for CCF will make a direct difference in the lives of vulnerable children and families who live around the former municipal dumpsite in Phnom Penh where CCF works.
“I’m just hoping that the money raised will get spread as far as it can go,” he says.
“I’m aware that [some of] these guys and girls are grafting for a single dollar every day and that’s shared between their families, so if I can keep a child off the street begging and actually have them in education instead, then that’s ultimately what I hope the money will achieve.
“This is the first time I’ve tried to give back to something that I’ve got so much from, i.e. being a tourist in Cambodia, And it becomes even more pertinent with the global pandemic, when you see the vast impact mass tourism has in Cambodia, and then think how that can be ripped away so quickly.
“All those dollars that were being poured in are absolutely essential for the lifeblood of that country, supporting the way of life that they’ve become so dependent on, so to rip that way in a global pandemic, that’s brutal. It will have a lasting impact.
It’s time to give back. We are not actually physically going there [to Cambodia], so we need to try and continue, however we can, to give support.
Nick hopes to visit CCF in Cambodia when possible and see firsthand how his donation is working to help those most in need.
And after recovering a while from the bike and run triumph, Nick is already thinking about his next exploits to raise funds for charity, with plans for something even more extreme this year.
And CCF will again be a beneficiary of his efforts.
“CCF is a cause I will hold dear to my heart,” says Nick.
“I have been blown away by the [CCF] team reaching out to me and being so supportive in what I was doing. It feels like a much more personal experience than other charities.”