A DAD of two from South Ealing took on the toughest foot race on earth to raise money for the charity, Harrison’s Fund.
Aled Davies, 42, of Netherbury Road, took part in the Marathon des Sables, challenge a grueling multi-stage race through a formidable landscape in one of the world’s most inhospitable climates - the Sahara Desert.
Runners must cover a distance of 255km in six days. The rules require runners to be self-sufficient and to carry with them everything they need to survive.
Aled, a self-employed mediator, said: “One afternoon I was sitting in Paddington train station reading a copy of the Evening Standard when a headline that grabbed my attention.
“There was a picture of Harrison with his father, Alex, below a headline that read ‘I wish my son had cancer’.
“I was reduced to a blubbering wreck and very quickly came to the conclusion that I must do something to help. That’s when it occurred to me perhaps I could use the marathon as a way of raising awareness and, of course, vital cash for Harrison’s Fund.
“The marathon was one of the toughest experiences of my life. This year. average peak temperatures were in the 50s Centigrade and the sand dunes were the size of Snowdon!
“Water is rationed, with each runner receiving just a maximum of 11litres per day. As well as the physical challenge.
“Mentally, it was exhausting. I ran alone for the vast majority of the time, except for the notoriously known Day Four, which is the longest stage at 82km. Most runners are navigating their way through the desert with a head torch.
“All the while, though, I had the picture of Harrison and Alex in my head and it kept me going through the tough times.”
Harrison’s Fund is named after seven-year-old Harrison Smith, from Surrey, who was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a fatal genetic condition which affects the muscles, causing muscle weakness.
The charity’s goal is to get as much money as possible into the hands of the world’s best researchers, who are working to find a cure for Duchenne.
Alex Smith, founder of Harrison’s Fund and Harrison’s dad, added: “Aled did brilliantly well.
This year’s race was one of the toughest yet, which was reflected in the dropout rate, but he managed to finish in 264th position from 1,100 runners, so he has done the charity proud.
“It is one thing to donate money, but quite another to put yourself through all these physical challenges.
“Our charity isn’t just about saving Harrison, it’s about saving anyone, now and in the future, who has or might have Duchenne.
“Aled’s fundraising total of more than £4,000 will make a real difference to this.”
To support Aled please visit http://www.justgiving.com/AledDaviesMdS