When your monthly running average is the equivalent of one Cape Town Cycle Tour, but you decide to start the year with “new year, new me” vibes and take on the 496 Challenge, your family and friends have the right to think you are a tad crazy.

The 496 Challenge is a month-long challenge crafted by legendary Zimbabwean ultra endurance athlete, Sean Conway, and covers 500km. Not by bicycle, but by foot. The idea is to start your day 1 with 1km, followed by day 2 with 2km, increasing daily until the final day of the month.

Roxie Varkevisser, local running and cycling enthusiast, was inspired by the idea, not fully comprehending the extent of the task that lay before her. With 31 days in January, she would need to complete 496km. That’s almost 400km more than the average she runs in a month. Is it crazy or just one big challenge?

The first 10 days (51km) were manageable but by day 21 (half marathon day) it was a struggle to get out of bed in the morning, let alone maintain motivation to run.

Battling with blisters on her toes, aching back pain and muscle fatigue, she prioritized her recovery through stretching, foam rolling, use of a massage gun and ice baths. She managed her chafing with ASS MAGIC Anti Chafe Balm and religiously soothed her skin with ASS MAGIC Skin Repair Cream – a game changer for this rigours challenge. 

On day 22, Roxie had had enough. She’d realized that she was only halfway through the challenge and to complete it, she still needed to run another 9 consecutive days (243km). That excluded the 22km that she still had to complete that day.  

With the promises of pancakes and beer, her family and friends bribed her into motivation and ultimately the completion of the challenge.

Roxie clocked a whopping 500km on Strava for January, successfully completing the 496km Challenge, plus some.

When asked what she was most proud of in completing this challenge, her response was, “getting past not wanting to carry on.”

Would she do it again? Probably not in a hurry, especially if she had to buy new running shoes for every challenge.