Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
Lockeridge mother taking on race in desert
9:00am Saturday 16th February 2013 in News
Lockeridge mum Debbie Simpson is marking her 50th birthday by undertaking the toughest foot race on earth.
Ms Simpson, a single mum-of-four, has been running since she was a teenager and has taken up some notable challenges, but they were nothing compared to the Marathon des Sables – 156 miles across the Sahara Desert in temperatures up to 50 degrees Celsius.
She said: “I will be celebrating my 50th birthday in May and I was looking for something to do that didn’t involve throwing a party. I’m a member of the Marlborough Running Club and I run regularly, but this will be something quite different from anything I have done before.”
Ms Simpson, a physiotherapist at Savernake Hospital in Marlborough, will fly out to Africa on April 4 and after two days of travelling to the start line and carrying out administrative obligations, the runners will set off across the baking sands and rock on Sunday, April 7.
The terrain will include some of the highest sand dunes on earth.
Although the organisers supply tents for the runners at the end of each of the six days, Ms Simpson will have to carry a backpack containing her sleeping bag, groundsheet, emergency flare, torch, anti-venom pump, mirror, whistle and a minimum of 2,000 calories of food per day – weighing around ten kilos.
She is raising money for the charity Facing Africa, based in Seend, near Devizes, that sends surgical teams to Africa to help children with the disease Noma, which causes facial disfigurement.
Ms Simpson said: “The reason I chose it is because it is a local charity and it does such important work. Noma is a terrible disease and it so easily cured with antibiotics if it is caught early enough.”
She has set herself a target of raising £5,000, which Marlborough business Sarsen Technology has pledged to match. She has so far raised around £2,600. Anyone who wants to sponsor her can do so at the website www.facingafrica.org Click on donate now, then select “yes” as sponsoring a runner. Put Ms Simpson’s name in the box so the donation is added to her total. People can also email debbie.s. firstname.lastname@example.org Ms Simpson has four children, three boys and a girl, aged 22 to 13. Her husband, Chris Jarmey, died of a heart attack some years ago.