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Exning/Little Bentley: Students to embark on Marathon des Sables for Hope for Children

12:00 01 April 2014

Oliver Robinson (left) and Rory Dowie (right) after a 45-mile race in Essex in preparation of the Marathon des Sables.

Oliver Robinson (left) and Rory Dowie (right) after a 45-mile race in Essex in preparation of the Marathon des Sables.


Two students from west Suffolk and Essex are set to be the youngest male competitors of this year’s Marathon des Sables (MdS) endurance challenge.

Rory Dowie, 20, from Exning, and his university friend Oliver Robinson, 20, from Little Bentley, fly out on Friday to take part in what is known as ‘the toughest footrace on earth’.

They will be faced with the equivalent of about six marathons over seven days through the Sahara desert, clocking more than 150 miles, all while carrying a heavy backpack.

The friends will be supporting the charity Hope for Children, which works towards a world where children can reach their full potential.

Together they aim to raise £14,000, and have already achieved about £7,500.

Mr Dowie, who is studying economics, said on his fundraising page: “The MdS is something that I have always seen as a goal and an aim from an early age and when an opportunity like this comes up it is almost impossible for one to say no, I find.

“Since signing up for the MdS, Ollie and I began to realise that in fact the charity we had signed up to fundraise with was in fact a really worthwhile cause and deserves much more recognition than it has.

“As a result we set up the Hope project ( to get together like-minded people to compete in challenges and events around the world in aid of Hope for Children.”

Mr Dowie, who ran the London Marathon in 2012, said he started looking for a charity place for the MdS after he was unable to do the Paris Marathon last year. A change in the rules meant he was too young.

He said he was looking forward to the challenge, but he was also extremely nervous as all of the elements combined would make it really tough: “The heat, sand, carrying the kit for a week and trying not to get dehydrated.”

As well as increasing the miles, training has involved getting used to the heat, including a heat acclimatisation session at Silverstone.

Mr Robinson said his running experience when he signed up was limited to a half marathon, but he did not take the challenge lightly at all.

He said his fundraising target of £7,000 made his commitment all the more serious.

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