“It has been the most incredible, amazing and challenging experience of my life.”
33-year-old London City worker, Viviane Joynes, has recently returned from a 3,850km run across Europe for the British Red Cross.
Inspired by her grandmother, who fled Germany as a refugee at the end of the Second World War, Viviane wanted to raise funds for the British Red Cross and its work for refugees.
“It’s scary to think that the number of refugees today is actually at its highest since 1945,” Viviane said. “I desperately wanted to do something to raise awareness and help support the plight of refugees and innocent victims of conflicts.”
Beginning her incredible journey, Viviane Joynes set out for 800km across a route that retraced that of her grandmother. “Following her route, I then carried on towards the south of Spain to see how far I could go” she said.
Viviane ran across Poland, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, and Spain. She began in Unieradz, Poland, on 15 July 2014 and ended in Tarifa, Spain, on 13 January. Viviane completed the run without a support team or other accompaniment. She simply took along with her a buggy, affectionately named “Bob” weighing over half of her own body weight and holding everything needed to undertake the challenge.
The run was extremely challenging, involving a number of injuries and strange encounters but Viviane told us that she was encouraged to push on with her journey by the repeated kindness of strangers.
“At the beginning, you don’t really know what will happen or how far you’ll get but I just tried to take each day at a time. I kept telling myself that what I was experiencing was nothing compared to what my grandmother went through as a refugee and what 46.3 million forcibly displaced people in similar situations are going through every day around the world.”