Duo’s sweltering Sahara race

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A pair of fitness fanatics are putting their bodies to the test in what has been dubbed the ‘toughest footrace on earth’ - a 251km run across the Sahara desert.

Louise Burnell, 34, and Ross O’Donnell, 24, of Wakefield, will tackle the Marathon des Sables, a gruelling multi-stage adventure race through one of the world’s most inhospitable climates, to raise £15,000 for Yorkshire Cancer Research. They are two of just 1,000 competitors across the world to get places in the ultra-marathon which takes place across seven days in April 2016 and involves them carrying all their own kit, food and equipment in the sweltering 50-degree heat.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes became the oldest Briton to complete the gruelling race this year, and famously described the experience as “more hellish than hell.”

The duo are now asking local businesses to donate £250 in return for a strip of advertising space on the shirts they’ll wear throughout the race. They’ve also organised golf days, auction charity nights, cinema nights and games nights in a bid to hit their £15,000 sponsorship target.

Louise, who works as head of client services at Leeds based marketing agency, The Individual Agency, said: “Sadly, we both know someone who has, either directly or indirectly, faced cancer so we wanted to push ourselves as hard as is humanly possible to raise as much money as possible for Yorkshire Cancer Research. The work that this charity does is incredible, and they deserve as much support from local people as possible.”

Quantity surveyor Ross, who also works in Leeds, added: “We know it’s going to be a tough seven days – but it’s for a great cause and we’re excited to push our bodies to the limit. It’ll be a mental challenge as well as a physical one but we’re prepared to take it on!”

Any donors or businesses interested in sponsorship can visit: www.mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/rossloumds2016 or www.facebook.com/ross.lou.mds2016/info

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