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Supporting the COB Foundation by taking on the the world’s toughest footrace - The Marathon Des Sable
Stuart White, husband of Karen White, a member of The COB Foundation, recently took on the challenge of his life. Along with his four younger brothers, he competed in the infamous Marathon Des Sables (Marathon of the Sands, or ‘MDS’) - billed as the toughest footrace on Earth.
Established in 198, the ultra-race challenges its competitors to traverse the Sahara desert in soaring heat and with limited supplies. Many of the runners never complete the race due to dehydration, fatigue and even organ failure - for some it has even proved fatal. A sobering thought, reflected Stuart: “One in five competitors don’t finish the race… and there are five of us!”
So what compelled Stuart to take on this challenge? “I come from a pretty competitive family and as one of five brothers we are always looking to challenge each other. I am the eldest, with 18 years between myself and the youngest. When one said yes … we all said yes.”
“For a moment I thought it was an absurd idea and then I began to get excited about the challenge and the opportunity to raise money for charity. We also felt it would be a fitting tribute to our Grandmother, who had recently passed away, and who had always talked of us doing something extraordinary together.”
The race is six marathons, or 257 km (160 miles), across the Sahara desert over six days, including one 90 km (56 miles) back-to-back multi stage, across inhospitable terrain, ranging from sand dunes to mountain ranges, while the temperatures regularly soar to 40 degrees Celsius during the day and dropping to 3 degrees at night.
And, unlike most marathon runners, the competitors have to carry everything on their backs: food, clothes, cooking equipment and sleeping bags. Weight restrictions mean that the bag must weigh between 6.5kg to 15kg – so not exactly light. The mandatory equipment also includes a compass, distress flare and venom pump!
Preparation was key and since starting training a year ago, Stuart completed 1,600 miles, including two 50 mile races, 16 marathons and 30 half-marathons in the last six months and has worn out five pairs of training shoes.
“It's been tough fitting the training in around a busy work schedule and family life, but I have found running home from my office in London back to Kingston Upon Thames has been an effective use of time, particularly given its my commuting time anyway.”
The good news is all five brothers successfully completed the race in April, all finishing in the top half, with Stuart in 394th place out of a field of 1,100. This was after a gruelling 46 hours and 38 minutes across dunes, jebels and rocky plains and with severely blistered feet!
“It was a privilege to experience such a beautiful country with my four brothers. The scenery that was simply stunning. There were runners from 41 different countries and plenty of laughs along the way to keep us sane in the searing heat.”
“At the start of each race day the organisers played the song ‘Highway to Hell’ which was quite apt given the fatigue and pain got progressively worse during the week and as the blisters multiplied and the legs tired.”
On his return from Morocco, Stuart completed the challenge, by competing in the London Marathon. “It’s something I have always wanted to do and given I was physically fit, I thought why not. I finished in 3 hours and 38 minutes and can honestly say it was absolutely exhausting… my body was finally telling me that enough is enough!”
As part of this challenge Stuart has been raising money for The COB Foundation, which has provided invaluable support to his wife, mother-in-law and eldest daughter, all sufferers of Cystitis.
Stuart wanted to send a message to all those who have supported him: “I am very proud to be supporting The COB Foundation and am so grateful for the tremendous support I have received, raising over £6,000. Thank you so much for all your kindness and generosity. Every penny counts and goes directly to helping those who are suffering. Thank you again and in case you would still like to donate I will keep the charity pages open for a little while longer.”
Charity Page: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/stuartwhite1
So what is next?
“Well I am having a few months rest to let the body recover… then in July, I will be taking on the ‘Race to The Stones’ 100km ultra, traversing one of the oldest roads in the UK from the Chilterns in Oxfordshire to the North Wessex Downs…. after that we shall see… perhaps I’ll take on the 250 km ‘Fire & Ice’ ultra in Iceland. It will be a nice change after the heat of the desert!”
For more background you can also find, via the links below, an article on the MDS website and also view a short video of the MDS race. You will see Stuart crossing one of the stage finish lines draped in a Union Jack flag with his brother Christopher (at 2min 45s).
- News: http://mds2016.marathondessables.com/MDS-official/en/the-mds/news/1218-keep-it-in-the-family.html
- MDS 2016 Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tKI8PEpG7Y
Congratulations and well done to Adam Martin who successfully completed the 2016 Manchester Marathon on the 10th April. Adam is the Head of Marketing (Continence Care) at Coloplast and as Coloplast are a supporter of the COB Foundation he was happy to run for our charity. We are ectremely grateful as Adam has already raised over £600.
Our thanks to Stuart White who is running an unusual marathon and raising money for COB.
Next April, I take on the 31st MARATHON DES SABLES in the Sahara Desert, with by 4 brothers: a first.
By way of introduction, my name is Stuart White. I have decided to raise money for the COB Foundation, given both my wife and mother-in-law have found your organisation's support invaluable. Please see below some more details on the adventure I will be embarking on with my 4 brothers to run 250km across the Sahara Desert in April 2016. If you feel it is appropriate please feel free to forward to your members to help in the fund raising. With Kind regards, Stuart
In April 2016, I will be taking on the challenge of my life, to run 250 kilometres over six days, across the Sahara desert, with my 4 younger brothers.
I have chosen to support 'The Cystitis and Overactive Bladder (COB) Foundation' a charity largely unknown and often overlooked, but provides invaluable support to people who suffer from all forms of painful bladder conditions. My mother-in-law, wife and other members of my family, all suffer from Cystitis, a painful and debilitating condition, which has a huge impact on their lives.
This foundation has helped them and countless other sufferers fight the condition and I am proud to be supporting such a worthwhile cause.
Every penny helps and if you can spare a small donation it would be really appreciated.
Thank you and best wishes,
The COB Foundation thanks John Sherrard for 'running for COB'
John Sherrard - Great North Run - 13th September 2015
John Sherrard put his best foot forward on 13th September and succeeded in running a half marathon in under two hours!
John recently lost his mother and as one of the contributory factors in her death was acute cystitis, he chose to run and raise funds for the COB Foundation.
John is aiming to raise £500.00 for COB and his ‘My Donate’ page is still open if you would like to sponsor him https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/johnsherrard1. Alternatively, you can contact the office to make a payment by card over the phone.
So far with ‘Gift Aid’ John has raised £332.50. Let’s help him to push towards his target of £500.00!