One of the Managing Directors of the News will be flying out to the Sahara desert tomorrow, Friday, April 8, to take part in the 160 mile Marathon des Sables in searing heat and carrying all his provisions, in a final push for our £100,000 fundraising appeal for Evelina Children’s Hospital.
Chris Mullany, who has undertaken a number of challenges over the past few years in order to raise money towards the total, will join 1200 competitors flying out to Ouarzazate, nicknamed ‘the door to the desert’ in south east Morocco, before they take a six hour bus journey into the heart of the Sahara. Once there, they will sleep seven to an open-sided Bedouin tent, setting off for a gruelling week on the Sunday, and hopefully arriving at the finish line the following Saturday.
Billed ‘the toughest footrace on Earth’ by National Geographic Channel, this year’s Marathon des Sables, the 31st of its kind, will be the longest at 160 miles. Competitors will face temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius, or 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and have to scale ergs (dune fields), djebels (mountains) rising to the height of Ben Nevis, stony plateaus, dried-up lakes and oueds in which only sand flows, as well as oases, nomad camps, and traditional, rammed-earth villages.
The race takes place over seven days, and competitors will carry rucksacks of around ten kilos, with all their food for the week, clothes, sleeping bag and medical kit, including a venom pump should they be unlucky enough to come off worse in an encounter with snakes or scorpions, and a signalling mirror and flare, for use if they get lost. They will find their own way to checkpoints every ten miles, where they will be given a 1.5 litre water ration, to last them to the next stop. Chris will need to drink eleven litres of water a day, along with hourly salt tablets, in a bid to avoid severe dehydration, and will burn off some 5,000 calories a day – but will only be able to carry around half that in food, due to minimizing weight, and will expect to lose around a stone in weight during the week.
The mileage of the race will be roughly the 26-mile marathon distance each day for three days, followed by ‘the long day’ – a 55 mile slog that can take competitors up to thirty five hours, running all day and throughout the night with a headtorch and then arriving at camp the following afternoon. There is then a final marathon day, followed by a ten mile ‘fun run’ at the end.
The Southwark News has now raised over £92,000 towards its £100,000 target and Chris hopes that this latest challenge will convince some readers to loosen the purse strings again. As part of the appeal, he has taken part in the Southwark News team’s Three Peaks in 24 hours, led a six person team swimming the Channel, swum the Hellespont strait between Asia and Europe and in a month last year climbed Africa’s highest peak, Kilimanjaro, and cycled from London to Paris in 24 hours, so he felt he needed an extreme challenge to convince weary sponsors to back him again! As with all his challenges, all of the expenses and travel have been paid by himself and every penny raised will go directly to Evelina.
‘So many people have already been incredibly generous, so I thought I needed to raise the bar in order to convince anyone to sponsor me,” he said. “You can either sponsor me on the link below, or can contact the paper and make a pledge – if I don’t complete the run, then you don’t pay up. That will help motivate me in the desert! I really hope that this can push us close to our target, and with monies still to come in from collection tins in local pubs, along with runners taking part in the London Marathon for our appeal, I’m hopeful that we’ll soon hit the £100,000 mark”
You can sponsor Chris at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Evelina_2013 Alternatively, you can pledge a donation by email to him at:
email@example.com and not pay up unless he completes the race. You can also follow Chris’s progress (or lack of it), during the week, by clicking on
What your money will buy
The Evelina, which straddles the borders of Southwark and Lambeth, admits nearly 100,000 children every year. The money raised from our appeal will provide the following:
– Two baby ventilators – £52k
These ventilators are crucial for very premature babies. Babies who are born this early are perfectly formed, but their lungs are not developed.
– Infant warming system – £15k
This is an open cot that provides heat for babies that are really sick and can’t maintain their own temperature.
– One intensive care cot – £19k
Last year, Evelina treated 800 babies, of which 80 per cent were from Southwark and Lambeth. The intensive care cots are in high demand, and are fully occupied day and night 80 to 100 per cent of the time. They need as many as they can get.
– Evelina Hospital School – £14k
The Evelina Hospital School provides one-to-one bedside tuition for older children at the hospital, many of whom are battling life-threatening illnesses. Last year they provided 1,500 children with education, but they are currently only funded for half of the places they need.