Charlie's Story

Charlie started to fundraise for Brighter Futures in February 2022 choosing to support the CT Scanner Appeal within the Radiotherapy Centre in memory of his mother, Julia. 

Julia, died on January 16th 2019 after an extremely spirited argument with stage 4 bowel cancer. She was initially given 3 months to live, (6 at the most) without chemotherapy. Thanks to her positivity, strength she battled it out for almost 3 years. Julia received most of her treatment at the Great Western Hospital under the incredibly skilled and kind care of Dr. Sarah Lowndes and her team of nurses. 

Charlie took on the the Marathon des Sables, which is known as the worlds toughest footrace at the end of March. The marathon is a 250km unsupported race over 6 days. The terrain includes the highest sand dunes in Morocco, salt flats, mountains, dried river beds, volcanic rock fields and plenty more sand. The temperature can reach mid 40 degrees celsius. With all this around him, Charlie carried his cooking, sleeping and medical equipment as well as his food for 6 days. Charlie previously completed the challenge in 2014. 

Charlie gives us an insight into how he found the challenge below: 

"I didn’t exactly zoom across the finish line but I got there in the end after six days. The course was very testing this year with lots of steep jebels and kilometre after kilometre of sand, made more difficult by some unrelenting sandstorms. I picked up a knee injury about half way through the first day which slowed me down considerably but on the up side I enjoyed the stunning scenery and the simplicity of life in the desert even more thanks to this enforced slower pace. I finished about mid field which I was very happy with. There was, rather inevitably, a moment where I very nearly gave up. It came on the long stage of 85km. At about half way I knew that my core temperature was getting too high despite drinking gallons of water.. in my case this is signalled by pounding in the ears.. in my mate Henry, via a nose bleed.. we weren’t in great shape. Heat stroke comes on extremely quickly and we knew we were over cooking it. I took off my pack back at check point 4 to cool down. Even though the air temperature was 37 Celsius I got extremely cold as the sweat from my back was exposed to the air for first time creating a rapid cooling effect, much like a fridge. Within seconds I was shivering from head to foot so I put my pack back on and we set off again. About 2km on from check point 4 I started to overheat once more and I was losing energy very quickly.. according to Henry I had gone sheet white. I reluctantly decided that I needed to stop for a few minutes.. luckily a medical jeep was passing so we flagged it down to get quick MOT. My blood pressure had dropped significantly, as had my core temperature and blood sugar levels. I was shivering uncontrollably and felt generally, pretty second hand all round. I wrapped myself in my survival blanket and elevated my legs, had a bit of flapjack and lots of water. I was wondering how I was going to tell all my kind sponsors that I’d had to pull out of the race but to my complete surprise, within half and hour I went from feeling certain I was going to have to quit to being back on my feet and ready to get going again. The prospect of finishing the remaining 40 or so km that day seemed totally impossible but thanks to Henry’s unflagging and excellent company and a very inspiring/cheesy playlist we gritted it out and crossed the finished line for that stage in a gruelling 19 hours 30 minutes, at about 4am.

Mum was in my thoughts a lot during the 45 hours or so it took me to cover the full 250km and her determination to ‘just keep going’ was something that I found very inspiring. The fundraising was also a huge motivation for me, so thank you very much for providing some much needed impetus.

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