Our Unstoppable Fundraiser of the month for June is Guy Pitcher. Guy completed this year's Marathon des Sables, an ultra-marathon held over one week in the Moroccan Sahara desert, widely referred to as “the toughest footrace on earth”, and has raised over £1,500 in the process.
Having previously completed the London Marathon and Ironman Austria, Guy was no stranger to feats of endurance, but had never tackled an event on this scale before, and in fact claims “I still don't really see myself as a ‘runner’”! The difficulty of the MDS cannot be underestimated, with competitors covering up to 48 miles in a day whilst facing the extreme desert terrain and a temperature swing of 4 to 54 degrees C, as well as having to carry their own food for the duration of the run.
Despite all this, it’s clearly an event with massive appeal, as evidenced by the 2-year waiting list for places. Having signed up back in April 2011, Guy then set about his preparation for the challenge. 18 months were spent training for the MDS, which involved gradually building up to longer distances and competing in various ultra-marathon events (an ultra-marathon being defined as any race longer than 26.2 miles), alongside “endless hours of plodding around the paths, country lanes and beaches of Norfolk”. To help prepare for the desert heat, Guy’s training also included sauna sessions and running on a treadmill with a fan heater blasting in his direction!
Guy’s connection to the charity came about through his father: “Halfway through my training my Dad was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome. This is known as MDS which I found really rather spooky. I had intended to raise some money for a charity for my run but this focused my mind on LLR. I had been aware of the charity through seeing people running the London Marathon wearing their T-shirts.”
Guy gives a detailed and compelling account of his experience of the race in his blog post here.
On finishing the race: “The feelings when I crossed the finishing line were very intense. Relief, achievement, joy and sadness all rolled into one as I thought of my father. I confess to sobbing like a baby with overwhelming emotion.”
“The MDS takes place through the most beautiful and wild terrain. It is alien and unforgiving but the race proved to be the adventure I was hoping for. I began sharing a tent with 7 strangers and by the end of the experience we had become a real close knit band of brothers. This and the support of the race organisers and other racers alike was tremendously uplifting and life-affirming and in my mind was a great way to mark my Dad's life.
I was delighted to raise money for LLR and know that the money will be put to good use. I am very grateful to all my friends and family for the support and generosity.
Life is too short, so I would encourage everyone to challenge themselves and do something memorable.”
Visit Guy’s fundraising page here: https://www.justgiving.com/Guy-Pitcher
Planning your own challenge? We’d love you to join our team. Visit our challenge events page.