If you’ve been following along on our social media, you may have heard about Kara & Robbie, two HHF supporters who competed in a weeklong race through Madagascar to raise money for Happy Hearts Fund via Crowdrise.

Well, not only did they survive the blaring heat — they completed the race AND raised thousands for HHF!

They both have some amazing stories to tell (with photos, to boot).

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Hi! My name is Robbie Broomhead, originally from South London, now living in Hong Kong. Kara Hobbs and I just completed the Racing the Planet Roving race in Madagascar, a 250km, six-day, self-supported stage race.

Why did we choose to raise money for HHF?

Well, both Kara and I believe that education is vital and HHF operates where the need is greatest. We also felt HHF is where our fundraising dollars would be best spent. We hope to have raised $25,000 by the time all the donations are in and we are both very keen to see how the projects we will be supporting develop.

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The Madagascar race was a different challenge to my normal staple of Hong Kong trail runs and triathlons due to the distance, the heat, the searing equatorial sun, the sandy terrain, and the fact you had to carry all your own supplies for a week (except water). I was fortunate enough to just break into the top 20 (out of 231 starters) in 34.5 hours, which far exceeded by expectations.

It was a truly amazing race as Madagascar’s natural beauty was matched by the warm welcome and enthusiasm of the locals, who seemed equally excited and bemused by us running through their towns and villages. Always smiling and offering encouragement, even occasionally running (normal barefoot) with us for a short while.

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My most enduring memory is of their music, a wild mixture of drums, singing, clapping and dancing.

The other highlight was my fellow competitors who were very much kindred spirits with a love for adventure and challenge, with steely determination and easy smiles.

By far the most challenging day was Stage 2, which was a longer than expected day with incredibly challenging and draining terrain in 40ºC (104ºF) heat. One of the more experienced racers said it was one of the tougher days he had ever completed. My biggest personal challenge was keeping one of my trainers from totally disintegrating. Luckily for me there was an ample supply of duct tape available. My 2nd biggest challenge was keeping it a secret that I had stashed away my Elvis outfit to run in on the last day.

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Would I do it again? No chance. I think I can safely retire my backpack. Three-day events are now my self-imposed maximum. •


My name is Kara Hobbs; I grew up in Texas and now live in London, after having spent many years in NYC. The Madagascar race was completely outside of my comfort zone, but since it has been on my list as a place I’ve wanted to travel, I decided to sign on for the challenge.

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Robbie has pretty well covered why we selected Happy Hearts Fund, and I would echo his sentiments exactly. Education is something that most of us take for granted, but it is life changing and HHF fills that gap for children in areas that are hit by natural disasters and might not otherwise have access to an education/schools for years.

One of the biggest challenges for me was before the race just trying to wrap my head around the distance, running with a backpack (which I had never done, not to mention with all my supplies for a week), the unknown terrain, and just not knowing at all what to expect or how my body would react to this type of race/distance.

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Given this was my first race of this kind, I really tried to stay at my own pace and take it slow the first couple of days. This strategy worked well for me as I felt pretty good after the first two days, so was able to push a little more and ended up doing much better than I would have expected coming in 48th overall and 9th for women.

I really enjoyed was meeting the other competitors — a really fantastic group of driven, adventurous people that were fun to be around as well as helpful and supportive, particularly for us newbies.

Madagascar is such a beautiful and diverse place and we were fortunate to see parts of it that you just wouldn’t have access to unless you did something similar on foot. We got to run through so many small villages and the locals came out to cheer us on (or laugh at us) but were incredibly supportive and friendly which just helps keep you moving and keeps your spirits high.

Would I do it again? I am not rushing to sign up for another six-day, self-supported stage race, but never say never. •