A surgeon from Cambridgeshire has completed ‘the toughest footrace on Earth’ in a bid to help children with brain tumours.
James Tysome, a consultant ENT and skull base surgeon at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, spent six gruelling days crossing through 250kms of sand dunes, while scaling rocky mountains and white-hot salt plains, all to raise money for the children’s brain tumour charity Tom’s Trust.
As temperatures soared to 55 degrees centigrade, James, who set off on Sunday 23 April, had to use his skills to endure and push through, and even made it through a sandstorm.
James battled through inhospitable and hostile conditions in the 37th edition of the world-famous ultra marathon, pushing his body and mind to the limit with no relief from the sun.
Running conditions underfoot in the competition are extremely challenging, as running across sand presents additional load on the legs and feet. Day three saw a huge proportion of competitors drop out.
The fatigue and impact of the previous three days was met with the longest stage of the competition on day four, with James pushing through 90kms in one stretch including running through the night. On day seven he finally reached the finish line.
James has smashed his target of £3,000 and raised more than £5,200, a phenomenal amount which will ensure five families receive the mental health care they need after a brain tumour diagnosis.
James, who is from Balsham, Cambridgeshire, said: “The Marathon des Sables was an incredible race. 250km across the Sahara desert in six stages through epic scenery with strong camaraderie between the 1,000 runners.
“Conditions were more difficult that usual as there was a heat wave with temperatures up to 55°C, which made running through sand dunes hard work and resulted in 30 percent of runners dropping out over the course of the week.
“I was pleased to make it through to finish the race and to have the opportunity to raise money for Tom’s Trust as the suffering in the desert cannot compare to the difficulties faced by children with brain tumours and their families.”
James also had to carry everything he needed on his back, provided only with water rations and communal goats’ hair Berber tents supplied and pitched each night for him and his fellow competitors to sleep in.
Debs Mitchell, Co-Founder of Tom’s Trust, said: “We are blown away with James and everything he’s done for the children we support here at Tom’s Trust. We can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been for James to push through the race under those conditions. We simply can’t thank him enough for choosing to fundraise for us.”
Anyone wishing to get behind James and show your support can do so at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jamestysomemds
To find out more about Tom’s Trust go to www.tomstrust.org.uk