Tackling the UTMB Ultra-Trail Kosciuszko in Support of Orbis Canada | Orbis

Tackling the UTMB Ultra-Trail Kosciuszko in Support of Orbis Canada

Last December, Orbis Future Vision Leaders member, Andrew Robart, competed in the UTMB Ultra-Trail Kosciuszko 50k trail run, raising more than $1,000 for Orbis Canada in the process.

Robart is a fourth-year medical student and University Lead for the Orbis Future Vision Leaders chapter at Memorial University of Newfoundland. An avid runner, he had wanted to tackle an Ultra Trail Mont-Blanc (UTMB) World Series ultramarathon for quite some time. The race up Mt. Kosciuszko – mainland Australia’s tallest peak, which is situated in the Snowy Mountain Range – fit the bill and allowed Robart to qualify to enter the lottery for the UTMB Worlds in Chamonix, France in 2023.

While in usually sunny Australia, the Canadian seemed to bring Newfoundland’s snow and winter weather with him. A ‘storm of the century’ forced event organizers to the modify the course the day before the race. Despite the change, runners still had to deal with snowing conditions, which made the trail race even more difficult and treacherous.

While the 50km run was a personal challenge for Robart, the event was also an opportunity for him to raise funds for Orbis Canada. Robart first became involved with Orbis after learning more about the global eye health NGO at the Canadian Ophthalmological Society Annual General Meeting and Exhibition in Halifax, Nova Scotia last June. He was shocked to learn that 90% of the world’s blindness is preventable.

Sustainable global eye health was already an area of interest for Robart, who had been part of a medical brigade in Honduras during his undergraduate studies. While there, he was able to see first-hand how simple corrective procedures and access to glasses could easily restore sight and change the lives of people experiencing vision loss or blindness. “Seeing someone smile when they get their vision back is a strong motivator and something you’ll never forget.”

Robart crossed the finish line in a time of 7:26:37 after 50km and more than 1,400m of elevation gain

Having studied biomedical engineering in undergraduate school and becoming interested in automation, Robart hopes to continue to bring together medicine and technology in his career. Over the course of his clerkship, he realized surgical specialties aligned with his interests and skills and that, in ophthalmology, he could make a difference in the lives of others while working on new and innovative technologies to improve care.

Robart proudly displays his finisher medal following the race

Participating in the Orbis Future Vision Leaders program has solidified his interest in global eye health, as well as providing him with a strong community in the field. “If someone is interested in ophthalmology and hoping to pursue a career in the area, this is definitely an excellent opportunity to get involved,” he says. “As potential future ophthalmologists, it’s a great organization to help give back. In Canada, we’re fortunate to have access to timely eye care, and other countries need to have greater access to that care.”

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