RUNNING 251km – the equivalent of six marathons – through the formidable Sahara Desert is certainly not for the faint hearted.
Yet this is what New Zealand expatriate Jonathan Goslin has signed up for – and he has only six days to do it.
Along with 1000 other international competitors Goslin will partake in the infamous Marathon des Sables in April – otherwise known as the ‘Marathon of the Sands’.
The gruelling six day endurance event is ranked by the Discovery Channel as the “toughest footrace on earth”, with daily temperatures capable of reaching 50 degrees.
Competitors are required to carry everything they need on their backs, and the course will see them running through sand dunes, evacuated towns and saltpans.
An analyst at London firm Edison Investment Research, Goslin has been living in the United Kingdom for the past five years.
He will run the Marathon des Sables alongside British friend Mark Croxford, with the pair committing to the event two years ago “in the middle of a torrid English winter”.
Holed up in a London pub, the idea was thrown about somewhat light-heartedly – however due to the competitive nature of both men it has now become reality.
“Our discussions were centred firmly on finding some sunshine and this came up as an option,” Goslin said.
“We both agreed that it was an excellent idea given it should be very sunny, it was a long way off and we both privately thought the other was bluffing and would dismiss the idea the next day.
“However, as neither of us wanted to be the first one to pull out we have found ourselves with less than two months out from running 250km through the Sahara desert.”
Registration for the event opens two years in advance, and securing a place can be likened to winning the lottery.
Entries typically sell out within hours, and there are significant waiting lists.
Goslin and Croxford ran the Berlin Marathon in 2010, and have become accustomed to training throughout the harsh London winter – complete with snow and negative temperatures.
“London is generally not renowned for its weather, which does provide challenges when you are supposed to be training for an ultra-marathon on sand with temperatures in the 50 degree range.
“Despite this, we have been able to complete the majority of planned training runs, and we will soon work on heat acclimation.”
The pair have decided to use the marathon as a chance to raise funds for two charities – Ronald McDonald House South Island in New Zealand, and the London Dispossessed Fund.
Ronald McDonald House South Island provided free accommodation and support to Goslin’s family when his younger sister was seriously ill in Christchurch Hospital.
“The House was invaluable for my family throughout this time, allowing them to stay close to the hospital and not worry about anything other than Sophia.
“The marathon provides a great opportunity for me to raise funds for this amazing facility.”
*An online fundraising page has been set up at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/mds2013. Donors simply need to search Jonathon Goslin or Mark Croxford.