South African ‘part time adventurer’ Ron Rutland is no stranger to extreme expeditions and adversity. The former rugby player and entrepreneur has embarked on not one but three extreme expeditions in his life – a world-first unsupported solo bicycle journey through the entire continent of Africa followed by world-record-breaking hole of golf across the immense, untouched landscapes of Mongolia, and most recently a charity bicycle ride from London to Tokyo (to watch the Springboks win the 2019 Rugby World Cup!).
On June 30, 2013, fatter and un-fitter than ever before, having sold his life’s possessions, and having not spent more than a handful of nights in a tent before, Ron pedalled away from Cape Town Stadium to begin a remarkable trek by bike through every country on mainland Africa and parts of Europe on his way to Rugby World Cup 2015 in London. His goal: “to support the Springboks and celebrate health, vitality, mobility, adventure and a special life” – his friend, Lettie, who was fighting cancer and sadly passed away during the trip. Some 27 months, 75 countries and 42,000 km later, and 25-kg lighter Ron road into London with a passport full of stamps and a lifetime’s worth of stories.
The trip would forever change Ron’s life, as well as in many ways some of those who have heard and shared in his stories. The incredible humanity and kindness – the best of the human spirit that Ron encountered across such a diverse range of countries and cultures – flies in the face of ‘conventional wisdom’ and preconceived ideas and perceptions about so much of the world today. Add to that the compassion and generosity of the people around the world who followed what Ron calls “fun(d)raising” and donated to his cause.
After some time spent speaking about and sharing his story, Ron was ready for another adventure. When former Hong Kong rugby player and golfing buddy Adam Rolston suggested doing something with golf, it didn’t take much to rope Ron in. The duo decided to golf their way across the vast, rugged expanse of Mongolia to raise money for projects supported by the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation. With Ron carrying the bag and Adam hitting up to 250 shots per day, the twosome walked and hit a golf ball some 2,000 km across the East Asian country in 2017, setting a world record for “The Longest Hole ever played.”
Despite a recent hip replacement, there was a certain sense of inevitability that Ron would find a way to pull it all together again and plot another fun(d)raising expedition. After Mongolia, the Hong Kong Rugby Union appointed Ron as General Manager for Business Development, which exposed the adventurer to more sport for development and the work of so many inspiring rugby projects in Asia. With Rugby World Cup (RWC) coming to Asia for the very first time, Ron saw a once-in-a-generation opportunity to “Race to RWC” to raise money and awareness for RWC’s official charity partner, ChildFund Pass It Back.
And that “Race to RWC” ended successfully, after cycling 20,093km over 230 days, through 27 countries, at Tokyo Stadium on the 19th September 2019, with Ron and riding partner James, handing over the match whistle for the opening game of the RWC to referee Nigel Owens. In addition to that vital delivery, the pair raised over EUR130,000 for ChildFund Pass It Back, and produced a documentary of their adventures, https://www.everythinginbetween.film/
Ron is inevitably already working on plans for ‘what next’!