By Edward Parker, Co-founder and CEO of WWTW
I was very privileged, and a little apprehensive, to be part of the WWTW 2016 MdS team, embarking on running across 257km of the Sahara over 7 days. Sitting in the middle is the fearsome ‘double day’, 84km of sweat and tears, across dunes, broken ground, over 45⁰ jebels, under the starry night, and all the while a baking heat giving one no remittance.
This was the third year that WWTW had entered a team, and it is rapidly becoming one of the highlights of our calendar. For us it is a crucial fundraiser, generating in excess of £200,000 for our rapidly growing Head Start programme. This equates to providing therapy to over 300 men and women, a fact which spurred us all on while we struggled across the desert.
It was a perfect time to reflect. No mobile phone signal, no meetings to rush to, no distraction. In fact life becomes very simple, very quickly. You eat, drink and sleep just in order to be able to cover another marathon distance the following day – nothing else. I was able to remember the first time I went into the military ward in Selly Oak in 2009, when I was struck by the extraordinary fortitude of those who lay in those beds, battered and bruised. They weren’t dwelling on the past, they were challenging each other about who would succeed first, who would overcome the next obstacle, whether it was higher or wider. It resonated so strongly, and has always been the philosophy at the heart of WWTW. Watching Duncan and Karl compete in the MdS affirmed this extraordinary spirit of those who have been wounded, and galvanised those of us in the team to push ourselves forward and not to bother moaning!
There was also that wonderful feeling which we all shared, every WWTW runner whether military or not, of being in a tight knit team, with a common purpose. Everyone was supporting everyone, our aim was for every single member of the team to finish, not only to achieve their personal goal, but to do it with their companions. Many of us hadn’t really met before we flew out to Morocco. By the end, there wasn’t a person in the team who wasn’t part of a close knit, motivated, purposeful group. New friends were forged, stories regaled (often again and again), in-jokes laughed at to the bemusement of others, and in the centre of it all a common purpose was related to in order for us all to succeed, supporting the men and women who would benefit from the funds we raised. In a short, intense time, a disparate group of well meaning, energetic individuals became the 2016 team, and we are all proud of it.
We’ll be back again next year, a new team tramping across the desert on this extraordinary challenge, taking on nature in one of its most extreme localities, coming together as a group of individuals to support the many we do, and leaving as a team with a common purpose and an extraordinary sense of achievement. How lucky we are as a charity to have people such as this who want to support what we do.
Are you interested in taking part in the ‘toughest footrace on earth’, the Marathon des Sables next year as part of the WWTW team? If so, please contact our Expedition Manager, Victoria Nicholson. Victoria@wwtw.org.uk
Has our 2016 Marathon des Sables team inspired you to take on your own challenge? Sign up to one of our upcoming events to raise vital funds for our wounded.