Stroud man to take on Sahara
With his 50th birthday looming, Simon Dawson decided not to celebrate his half century with a party.
Instead, he plans to run 150 miles across the Sahara Desert.
Simon, who lives in Nailsworth with wife Steffi and their four young children, is now in training for the famous Marathon de Sable, which is known as the toughest race in the world.
Athletes cover 151 miles of the Moroccan desert, run over six days, in temperatures of up to 120F (49C).
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That's the equivalent of five and a half regular marathons a day in searing heat.
The 800 competitors have to carry everything they will need for the race – food, a medical kit and clothes.
Simon, who runs his own leadership training company, is preparing for the challenge.
He said: "I'll be 50 in January. I wanted to mark it on a high point and have a bit of an adventure.
"It's not just about being fit, it's about being organised. If you are carrying too much or haven't got enough supplies, then that can affect your performance.
"The right clothing is also crucial. Getting sand in your shoes can create real problems."
Simon ran the Five Valleys Walk last month as part of his training and plans a 45-mile run across the Brecon Beacons in December.
The mental challenge of running across the desert is tough but Simon says he is looking forward to experiencing spectacular, starry nights.
He is raising money for an orphanage in Thailand and, following the marathon, hopes to travel to the country to see how the money raised will benefit the children.
A fundraising sale to support Simon's marathon effort will be held on Sunday at The Acorn School in Nailsworth from 7.30pm. The ladies' evening will include stalls selling good quality and designer second-hand clothing and treatments such as Indian head massage and reflexology. Admission is £2, which includes light refreshments.
Follow Simon's progress on his website www.simondawson.saharamarathon.co.uk.