Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Blake's Racing for Burmese Education!

In less than 25 days I'm running a half-marathon in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Did I mention that I have zero training and I'm going to be... “barefoot”? 


For the past 2 ½ years I've been teaching English in Thailand. Recently, I left the sun and islands of the south for a small town on the northern Thai-Burmese border. For the next three months, I'll be volunteering my time, teaching English to Burmese immigrants-- economic, educational, and political refugees-- that fled their country to escape human rights abuses and to pursue the opportunity of receiving a proper education. 


The primary organization I'm working with is a local community based organization called Knowledge Zone. Run entirely by sponsorship and donations, KZ is a learning center providing free education and professional development, primarily in the areas of language and computer skills, for Burmese migrants. In an effort to raise my goal of $1000 USD for Knowledge Zone, I'll be providing the blood, sweat, and agony, and hopefully YOU can help by sponsoring with a small (or BIG!) donation. At 5 am on December 23rd 2012, I'll be running a half-marathon (13.1 miles/21 km) in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  All of the donations will go to providing the students at Knowledge Zone with new educational resources (school books, stationary, etc.).


To add to the already arduous venture of completing a half-marathon, at the time of this declaration-- 30 days til race day-- I have had ZERO preparation. That means no gym time (weight training or otherwise) and definitely no conditioning or endurance training for the past two months!


photo: jwtintelligence.com

Well... sort of. After reading lots of juicy sports literature in regards to the somewhat new (and somewhat controversial) minimalist-- aka “barefoot”-- running movement, I've decided that this is as good a time as any to try it out. Now, I'm no hippy nor am I a sadist. Running a halfy with zero foot protection would be foot murder (did someone just say "shoeicide"? *ziiiiinnng!), and while I'm all for making this endeavor as painfully difficult for myself as possible... I do want the race to remain just that-- possible. There's no point in crawling home with bloody feet 5km from the starting line. So, instead I'll be wearing New Balance's Minimus Zero road shoes, which have a 0 mm heel to toe drop. There one of the "most minimal" shoes on the market and just about as close to barefoot running as it gets without letting your skin rub pavement. This is a huge transition from the traditional running shoe and should be shifted to over time with gradual training. Unfortunately, time is what I don't have, so I'm busting out my old copy of the Rocky soundtrack, harnessing my inner Kenyan werewolf, and hoping for the best!


By sponsoring my run you're helping provide educational needs for my Burmese students and it just takes one click to donate. 'Tis the season and what better gift to give than the opportunity for education. The goal is to raise $1000 by Christmas and every single dollar makes a difference! It only takes 2 minutes of your time to affect the lives of these students!

...and just to add some incentive:

LEVEL 1-- Donate $1 to $49-- I'll personally see that my students send good karma your way for at least a year or two.
LEVEL 2-- Donate $50 to $99-- My students will send you a hand-written thank you note and picture of themselves to go along with all that good karma headed your way.
LEVEL 3-- Donate $100 to $299-- You'll get one "I sponsored an American teacher and helped him harness his inner Kenyan werewolf to run a 1/2 marathon in Thailand in support of educating Burmese migrants" T-shirt (with my werewolf graphic above), plus the thank you note, picture, and, yes, even the karma!
LEVEL 4-- Donate $300 to $1000--  You'll get a plaque made in your honor with your name and picture to hang on the wall inside the learning center... plus, all of the above!
***(For levels 2-4, include your name, address, and donation amount in an email to me at CBShlyGuy@gmail or in the comments below)***

1. What if you don't finish the race?
If I don't finish the race for any reason other than being run over by a tuk-tuk or by physician's orders, you're donation can be refunded at your request. But don't worry, it ain't gonna happen.

2. Can I donate after the race?
I am only taking donations until race day, December 23rd 2012. More info about the race can be found here

3. Can you tell me more about Knowledge Zone?
Knowledge Zone is a CBO in Mae Sot, Thailand. It is a learning center providing education and professional development for Burmese migrants. There are currently 10 teachers and over 250 students at KZ. All funding comes from donations and every dollar counts. The website is under construction but more information can be found here.

4. How do I know if you finish the race?
I will write a follow-up post with details about the race, how much money was raised for the students, my finish time, pictures, and, if possible, video of me crossing the finish line.

5. Why not a FULL marathon?
I considered it, but as I stated before, I have no problem making this difficult on myself, but not impossible. Running a full marathon with less than a month of prep time and in these circumstances would be pushing it. Maybe next year.

6. Can you tell me more about the situation in Burma?
Some more general information about the political and educational situation in Myanmar (Burma) can be found hereherehere, and here.

7. What exactly is minimalist running?
More information about minimalist running, similar to “barefoot” running or “natural” running can be found here.

8. If you've had no training in the past two months, how do you keep such a Spartan-like physique?
Good nutrition and great genes.

9.  How do I donate?
Just click the DONATE button on the top right of this page, or any of the other donate/sponsor buttons in this post... just like this one:



  1. Just donated $50. It should be really cold during that time up in Chiang Mai so at least you won't get heat exhaustion. Good stuff Blake!

  2. Checkout http://www.rockethub.com/projects/35955-be-in-education if you want to donate for the education in weaker areas of Thailand.

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