A trio of super-powered Sembcorp athletes has raised a total of £26,000 for charities close to the Teesside and Bournemouth sites after completing one of the world’s toughest endurance races.
Sembcorp Utilities UK’s Chris Plews and Ian Glover plus Sembcorp Bournemouth Water’s Annie Dougall were among seven Sembcorp runners who accepted a corporate challenge to take part in the gruelling Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon in South Africa at the end of October. All seven completed the 153-mile race.
Chris and Ian raised £20,000 to be shared equally between Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice at Normanby near Middlesbrough and the Butterwick Hospice at Stockton while Annie drew in a further £6,000 to be split between the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation and international charity WaterAid, which works in some of the world’s poorest countries transforming lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene education and sanitation.
The brave trio survived searing heat, scorpions, lizards, bugs and agonising blisters competing against 45 other runners from all over the world. Daytime temperatures in the Kalahari rose to around 50 degrees Celsius during the day and at night could plummet to below zero.
The race was run in seven stages of between 19 miles and 49 miles per day. Each runner carried water, food and essential survival equipment as they trekked through stamina-sapping desert sands, fertile valleys and the rocky outcrops of the Augrabies Falls National Park in the footsteps of the legendary Bushmen of the Kalahari.
Chris, Ian and Annie are all experienced long distance runners but none had ever tackled an extreme marathon before.
All showed true grit and determination against more experienced extreme marathon veterans.
Chris finished fourth behind three elite South African runners in a time of just under 37 hours. Ian, who struggled with blisters from the third day, prior to the excruciating 49 mile day/night stage, finished 21st in around 46 hours. Annie was fifth among the women who took part, finishing in 28th position in a time of just over 49 hours.
Said Chris: “It was an incredibly tough challenge, both physically and mentally, but one which none of us will ever forget as we ran through some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable.”
Ian said: “We are fortunate to be fit and healthy enough to take part in this and privileged to be able to give something back to our area, but we couldn’t have done it without the many people who supported us including families, friends, colleagues, customers, suppliers and business contacts – all of whom showed fantastic generosity.”
Annie said: “It was great to have been given this opportunity by Sembcorp and the support and assistance I’ve received from the company has been second to none. I would like to thank my colleagues and all those who supported our local charity, the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation, plus our international cause, WaterAid, including people who I don't even know! The race was the toughest thing I've ever done in my life but it was a tremendous experience and I would do it all again.”
Mark Guidery, General Manager of Zoe’s Place, which caters for children with life threatening and life limiting illness, said: “Both guys have shown breathtaking endurance abilities and the money raised will make a huge difference to families who use hospice facilities on Teesside.”
Victoria Rogers, fundraiser for Butterwick Hospice, said: “We can’t thank Sembcorp and Chris and Ian enough.”
Linda Thornton, secretary of the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation, established in 2008 in memory of her son, a young marine killed in Afghanistan, said: “Annie has been a great supporter of ours for several years and we had no doubt she would complete the race. Our key values are courage, determination, unselfishness and cheerfulness in adversity and Annie epitomises all those qualities. Her support will help us to provide so many opportunities for young people in 2013.
Annie’s colleague, Hazel Taylor, Sembcorp Bournemouth Water’s WaterAid representative, said: "Annie is amazing! It costs WaterAid an average of around £15 to help one person gain access to clean water and safe sanitation, and therefore Annie’s fantastic efforts will help transform the lives of some 200 of the world’s poorest people.”
The main picture shows (left to right) Chris Plews, Mark Guidery, Ian Glover and Victoria Rogers at the cheque handover event at the Wilton International site.
The second picture shows (left to right) Peter Thornton, Linda Thornton, Annie Dougall, Sembcorp Bournemouth Water Managing Director Roger Harrington and Hazel Taylor