Fundraiser takes on the toughest footrace on Earth for dementia research
By Philip Tubby | Wednesday 08 March 2017
A brave fundraiser will take on ‘the toughest footrace on Earth’, a 250km ultramarathon through the Sahara Desert, to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Georgie Peters, 29, will celebrate her 30th birthday by setting off across Morocco in temperatures of up to 50°C, carrying everything she could possibly need to survive for a week on her back.
The Marathon des Sables is notorious for being the toughest footrace on Earth, with six stages of completion stretched over seven days, including a long stage of 85km on day four.
Georgie will be heading out to start her challenge on 7 April, and returning 10 days later. She is taking on the gruelling race for her Grandad Alfred Castle, from Birmingham, who died from Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 90 in 2006.
She is also giving half of her fundraising total to the charity Bloodwise, in memory of her Auntie Sharon who died from leukaemia just six months later.
Georgie, who lives in Cambridge and is finishing her PhD in archaeology at the University of Cambridge, said:
“I have lovely memories with my Grandad Alf. He was so much fun, he’d always try to make me laugh and he cared so much for his family, working two jobs sometimes to make sure everyone had what they needed.
“He couldn’t recognise my mum or aunt towards the end, it was just totally devastating for all of us. Then losing my Auntie Sharon just six months later was even more heartbreaking, it was very tough for my mum.
“I decided that I wanted to do the Marathon des Sables over a year ago, and I knew that if I got a place I would want to raise money for dementia research.
“I’m building up to the event by doing three or four hours of walking at a time with a backpack on, often with all my work stuff inside. Hot yoga is also something I’ll be doing as the day gets closer to acclimatise to the heat.
“All donations will go straight to the charities as I have covered all race costs. I’m nervous but equally so excited.”
Georgie, who is originally from Helston, Cornwall, will be completing the race with her friend Charlotte Geen, who is raising money for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).
The website for the Marathon des Sables says ‘the sun will be your constant enemy’ as temperatures soar and sand constantly stings participants’ eyes while they run ‘over endless dunes, rocky jebels and across white-hot sand plains’.
Every year many people drop out en route. A camel stays at the back of the pack and if it catches up with participants they are told not to continue.
James Warren, Regional Fundraising Officer for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“We are in awe of Georgie and the lengths to which she will go to raise money for vital dementia research.
“There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. Alzheimer’s Research UK is funding the best research to find treatments and preventions for dementia.
“We will be supporting Georgie as she takes on this gruelling challenge, and we wish her the best of luck.”
Georgie is hoping to raise £1,500. To donate to her fundraising page, go to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/georgiepeters