Image for Walking with the Wounded News - Meet the Marathon des Sables team  / (Marathon des Sables - kit
 - The trail ahead across the dunes and mountains at the Marathon des Sables Military charity

Meet the Marathon des Sables team

In the run-up to the race, we are introducing you to the entirety of this year’s team.

The infamous Marathon des Sables (MDS) is one of the world's toughest and most iconic endurance challenges which often features on the bucket list of many ultra runners. Taking place in the difficult terrain of the Sahara Desert, participants run a total of 250km in seven days under the blazing desert sun, often leading to temperatures over 40°C. 


Every year, a team of WWTW supporters take on the challenging event to raise vital funds to help support those who served.

Ben Gallagher is a Royal Signals veteran who took part in WWTW’s Grenadier Walk of Oman in 2021. Looking for his next ultra-endurance challenge, Ben joined our MDS team so that he could tick off the iconic desert ultramarathon from his bucket list.


To mark his 50th birthday, RAF veteran Mat Poole signed up to take on the MDS – the perfect way for a keen endurance athlete to celebrate! Mat is currently writing a book documenting his training and race experience, called ‘Couch to MDS’; everyone who donates to his page gains access to the latest chapters. Mat is also supported by his employer, Cisco, who are generously match funding his fundraising.


Harry Whitbread is an ex-soldier who has a passion for supporting the veteran community. Currently, he works as a Global Ambassador for the London Speaker Bureau. As our next group of runners show, the impact of a talk can lead to great things…


After listening to a talk from WWTW Ambassador Duncan Slater, a group of servicemen and women from the 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment (the ‘Airborne Sappers’) were inspired to join the WWTW MDS team. Daniel LansleyPedro DobinsonTom Partington and Victoria Duncan (terming themselves the ‘Sandy Sappers’) are heading out to the desert intending to raise £35,000 for the work of WWTW.


Lt Colonel Andrew Smallbone is another one of our runners who is currently serving. Andrew serves in the British Army, and his previous role was as Vice President of the Army Selection Board. What a great addition to the team!


Rob Gibbs has been a follower of WWTW since the early days, working with the charity in a former role at Deutsche Bank. Leaving the Army in 2007, Rob found a desk job to be a challenge on his waistline (his words, not ours!) and so the MDS seemed like an appropriate challenge to help him regain his fitness from his serving days. Rob is also raising funds for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity who supported his son’s football coach, Del, who sadly passed away in 2019. 


Rob also introduced Chris Rosindale and David Cobbald to the charity and the challenge of the MDS. Chris is the MD at Connels, an estate agency based in Leighton Buzzard, and David is a fund manager at the Pension Protection Fund. They are both looking forward to joining Rob in Morocco.

Sean Clark was originally part of WWTW's 2021 MDS team, but had to withdraw from the race due to unprecedented conditions. However, always up for a challenge, Sean immediately signed up for the 2022 edition of the race on his return, and his first-hand experience of the race has proved extremely valuable for the team as they prepare to leave for Morocco (including his ingenious idea of camp shoes made from insoles!). He has even produced a podcast an MDS podcast featuring other members of the team, including Rob Gibbs. You can listen here: MDSpodcast.comSean is Director of Clark St James, a Norwich-based PPC agency that support WWTW with our Walking Home for Christmas fundraising campaign.


Two friends, Marcus Baker and Rob Buchanan decided that it would be better to do complete the MDS together, and so both signed up to take on the challenge. Marcus is a Director at Rothschilds Private Wealth and is keen to support veterans who are struggling.


Emma Carpenter is no stranger to endurance challenges, having already completed multiple Ironman events, but the MDS is a unique race that is on her bucket list to complete. Emma was introduced to the charity through mutual connections and expeditions and later worked with the charity to inspire and educate the children at Abberley Hall School, where she used to work.


Two more members of the team are Simon Harris and Douglas Hayter. Simon works for EasyJet as a security operations manager, and Douglas is currently studying at university. Both are excited to travel to the desert and take on the MDS.


When Glen Watts first heard about the MDS, he thought it was out of his reach. Yet through determination and a love of running, the veteran will be making his way to the desert this year to take part in the iconic footrace. Glen wants to raise as much as possible to help those who are struggling and have served.


Duncan Murray works for the London Fitness Company as a health and fitness specialist – his expertise will be very useful for the team!


Ex-Army officer James Ryan would not describe himself as a ‘runner’, yet he decided to take on the infamous MDS as he is willing to suffer to raise money for disadvantaged veterans. To encourage donation, James has added challenges to his fundraising. For example, for every £100 of sponsorship, he will add an extra rep to his hill sessions up a very steep hill!


And finally, we have Paul Rossington, a consumer and retail analyst at HSBCand Chris Clark. They have both been training hard; hopefully, the hard work will pay off in the desert!


Good luck to the team. Thank you for supporting those who served.