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From Somerset to the Sahara Desert

By Nick Allen

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Local mother of three, Ash Sinfield joined us at Combe Grove this week to share her experience of an epic adventure completing the Marathon des Sables in 2016. Ash had never run a regular marathon before setting out on this challenge, let alone six, in six days.

“The toughest foot race on earth”, the Marathon des Sables is a six-day ultramarathon across the Sahara Desert, covering 251km, the equivalent of six regular marathons. Runners carry all of their food and equipment for the expedition and are given water and salt tablets throughout the day. After lancing blisters and taping their feet, they sleep like sardines in bivouacs, there is nowhere to wash, so you get know your tent mates pretty well!

Ash underwent knee surgery in the 18 months prior to heading to Africa, so she faced recovery and rehabilitation as well as intense training. Training for an event like this not only requires being able to run significant distances but also being able to run in the heat, something many British runners are not acclimatised to. Ash made use of Bath University’s heat chamber, where she could train on a treadmill at high temperatures.

Ash spoke about her inspirations and how she stayed motivated during the race and throughout the preparation phase. She wanted to test her physical and mental strength and her endurance, but also wanted to demonstrate to her own children that you can do anything you put your mind to, and when you do, it’s best feeling in the world.

Fundraising was an important part of this challenge and Ash raised over £8,000 for her chosen charity, Restart Africa. A Kenyan organisation who rescue homeless children from the streets and provide them with a home, education, care and counselling. One of The Elmhurst Foundation’s key purposes is to provide public benefit and support the work of other charities, so the evening was held in aid of Restart Africa and we are delighted that ticket sales raised £100 in support of the charity. If you would like to make a donation in to help Restart Africa continue their important work, you can follow this link. 

Keep an eye out for more events coming to Combe Grove, on our website and social media.

Ash in training

The Bivouac Camp

Ash’s Eight children from Restart Africa
Ash coming over the finish line, Union Jack in hand!