The Marathon Des Sables is known as the toughest foot race on earth. It's a grueling six days running through the Sahara Desert – the equivalent of six marathons in six days in one of the most inhospitable climates on the planet. To add to the challenge runners must be completely self-sufficient, carrying everything they need with them, apart from their week's supply of water and tent, in a backpack.
Jersey runner Pete Wright is running the MDS in just a few weeks time and as part of his fundraising and training he'll be donning a bunny outfit to run round the island delivering Easter eggs to several local schools and nurseries – and raising money for a local charity, The Grace Crocker Family Support Foundation.
Pete has been running since moving to Jersey ten years ago, gradually taking on bigger challenges; first 10k runs then marathons and now the MDS. Peter entered two years ago and has been sponsored by his employer GoldMoney. 'It is the ultimate endurance race, and I'd read so much about it. I liked the fact it would push me well outside of my comfort zone. My family were slightly concerned and thought I was mad when I entered, but they also know I'm stubborn and have been really supportive throughout. The first year of training was severely hampered by injury so my real training only properly got started 12 months ago. During this time I've managed to enter and compete in 5 marathons and 8 ultra-marathons I'm now feeling pretty fit and can't wait for the start.'
Over the last few months Pete collected just under £3,000 for Jersey Hospice and Durrell at all day treadmill events hosted by Marks & Spencer's and De Gruchy department store. Now he is collecting for two charities with a personal connection. Pete has set up a JustGiving page in memory of Dylan Hockley the British boy killed in the SandyHook Elementary School shootings in America. Pete knows Dylan's family through a good friend in Jersey. 'I have been told that my plans to run the MDS are an inspiration to some, whilst others think I'm just plain crazy. In truth, it is just one week of my life where I have to dig that little bit deeper and push on through the pain. When the training gets tough, what inspires me is the bravery shown by families affected by tragedy, like the Hockley family. This family and others like them are the true inspiration in life.'
Pete is also collecting for the Grace Crocker Family Support Foundation. Grace was born in Jersey with hypo-plastic left heart syndrome and had open heart surgery at just five days old. Grace's family had to move to Southampton for three months. Sadly Grace died aged 11 weeks and her family set up the charity in her memory. It aims to help other families who have to go off island when a child is seriously ill, and gives financial and emotional assistance.
The final, and probably most unique, training fundraiser before leaving Jersey on April 3rd to run the MDS itself, is going to be Pete's Easter bunny run on Tuesday March 26th . He will be dressing up as the Easter bunny and running approximately 30 miles around Jersey to various nurseries and primary schools delivering chocolate eggs. 'I've been generously sponsored again for this by my employer GoldMoney and approximately 10 schools and nurseries have signed up for this event, and will be giving me a donation for each egg delivered. I hope to make this an annual event, and next year have most of the schools and nurseries signed up.'
Much of Pete's training has been in wet, cold and muddy conditions, in huge contrast to the Sahara. Apart from getting hot in his bunny suit on March 26th, he will be attempting to heat train with Bikram yoga, sauna sessions, and has also hired a treadmill for his conservatory where he will be turning the heaters on high.
Peter's JustGiving page: http://www.justgiving.com/Pete-Wright2013