‘I’m excited and scared’ – Runner to tackle one of world’s hardest races
PUBLISHED: 11:53 07 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:00 07 March 2020
A Suffolk man who “avoided any form of exercise for the first 40 years of his life” is taking on one of the world’s most gruelling physical challenges to help homeless people in Ipswich.
Stuart Risebrow, 50, will compete in The Marathon Des Sables across the Sahara Desert. Dauntingly, the challenge involves completing a 155-mile route over six days - four marathon days, a double marathon long day, and a 10km "fun run."
Competitors are only provided with water and shelter - so they have to deal with the scorching temperatures and tough terrain with six days worth of food, clothing, kit and bedding strapped to their backs.
The terrain varies between open, rock-strewn desert, oven-hot sand dunes, and steep mountain climbs. Temperatures can reach 50C at midday and plummet down to freezing at night.
The run was due to take place in April but because of coronavirus has now been put back until September.
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Stuart is a former pupil at Rushmere Hall Primary and Northgate High Schools in Ipswich. He is married to Tracey and they have two daughters, Sam and Alexandra. His father, Richard, is a former Mayor of Ipswich.
Stuart says he took no exercise when he was young, but a combination of gaining weight and a health scare gave him motivation, starting with climbing Kilimanjaro. He has become a regular runner, taking on a succession of challenges - although none quite so fearsome as this one.
He says: "I'm both excited and scared that the Marathon Des Sables is so near, but I'm ready. It's going to be terrible and brilliant, soul-destroying and life-affirming. It's going to be tough. However, I believe if you train adequately and intelligently, you can make your own impossible happen."
Stuart is raising money for The Bus Shelter Project in Ipswich, which is part of a growing network working of schemes that use recycled buses to reduce the number of rough sleepers.
It focuses on providing a warm, dry and safe environment to sleep in, and also provides hot food. Efforts are then made to introduce guests back into society. To find out more, go to the Bus Shelter project's Facebook page.
To help Stuart's fund-raising efforts, go to his JustGiving page.