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Twin brothers take on the Marathon des Sables

This year, WWTW is taking its biggest team out to navigate through the Sahara Desert as part of the Marathon des Sables.

Twin brothers Harry and Toby have both served in the Armed Forces and they taking on the challenge, along with Peter, their older brother.  They are the only trio of brothers to take part in this year’s race. 

1.     What inspired you take on the MdS, dubbed the world’s toughest foot race?

The MdS is something that we'd always talked about doing but I think we both needed cajoling to actually bite the bullet and do it. That came from our older brother, Peter, who suggested it on the eve of Toby's wedding in 2018. I think the reason we were all keen that evening is that we were probably a little worse for wear and most ideas would've seemed good at the time! Having left the army in 2016 we both miss the physical demands and adventure that came with the job; realistically, that can rarely be matched in the civilian world - certainly not in London anyway! The MdS provides a great opportunity to do something exciting, adventurous and physically testing, which would be hard to replicate on a normal it seemed like a great opportunity to spend some time together as brothers, doing something memorable (without the distraction of technology!) 

2.      How are you training for it?

We're both training as much as we can and we tend to try and do one joint weekend a month where we go somewhere rural and do two consecutive long days. We've actually stayed in the old officer's mess down in Lulworth and run over the Jurassic coast hills - but it's hard to replicate the Sahara Desert in a wet and wintry UK (especially as we seem to enjoy a storm each weekend at the moment).

3.      250 KM is an incredible distance. Do you have any strategies to keep going when it starts to get tough?

I think the main thing is to just keep going, to break it down each day at a time and keep the mind-set that it is doable. In addition, I think running alongside Duncan Slater will be a great motivator - if Duncan can do it without legs, there is no excuse for us not to! 

4.      The race is physically challenging, but it will also test you mentally. How are you preparing your mind for the event?

​Good question and I'm not sure we really are preparing our minds for the event but I am sure we should be! I think a lot of it will be "mind over matter" and it is always good to have done something even harder before, to measure up against. The trouble is that I do not think either of us have done anything this difficult for a sustained period before.

5.      What do you envisage being the most challenging aspect of the MdS?

I think it's mostly going to be about the long day. Neither of us have ever attempted a distance like that on the back of three consecutive marathons, with weight, over the previous three days. From what we've heard from past MdS runners, it really is the biggest challenge and is a real question of mind over matter. Make it through the long day and you're almost out of the woods! Coming from our sedentary London jobs, I imagine the whole thing may be a bit of a shock to the system.

6.     Do you have any tips for other runners aspiring to take part in the race in the future?

It's a bit soon to say at this stage - we might hate every minute of it! However, universally, everyone who has done it before has described it as an incredible and indeed life changing experience, so I'm hoping our experience will be the same. I think if you want to do it and can save up the money (because it isn't cheap) then go for it. You'll have the best part of a year to train and so really the only thing standing in your way is you. If you want to do it, sign up for it.

7.      What is the first thing you’re going to do after finishing the MdS?

Whichever brother comes in last is going to give the other two an hour's foot massage, publicly by the pool at the hotel... that's quite an incentive to beat each other!

8.      Why have you chosen to support Walking With The Wounded?

Having both served in the Army and in Afghanistan, we've always been aware and in support of the numerous military charities out there. Walking With The Wounded does something a little different from the others and supports servicemen and women back into work, which is clearly a sustainable and long-term approach. They have done some inspiring fundraising expeditions in the past, which we've followed with great interest. We'd also seen Duncan Slater speak at an event and he gave a great (and very amusing) pitch for WWTW, so we wanted to support them as a charity.

Click here to donate to Harry and Toby’s page