Darcey Dunne, Christie fundraiser

Darcey first became interested in taking on challenges in support of charity a few years ago, when her mum Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer. She first took on a ’31 days of happiness’ challenge, doing kind acts for 31 days.

The next year, Darcey took on another charity challenge, a charity boxing match. Although she had no previous boxing experience, Darcey trained hard and managed to win her match. But sadly, her mum Susan died just a couple of days before her boxing match.

In January 2020, Darcey knew she wanted to take on a charity challenge to raise money for The Christie. Susan was on a clinical trial at The Christie before she died, and Darcey wanted to say thanks for the hospital’s support.

Darcey’s dad suggested she joined him for an ultramarathon in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan, organised by Ultra X. The gruelling challenge would mean running 250km over 5 days. The only problem was that Darcey’s dad was already a strong long-distance runner, and she could only just about manage a 5km run.

To get ready for the ultramarathon, Darcey threw herself into an intense training plan. First steps were working up to a half marathon and a marathon in 16 weeks, then another 16 weeks to get up to a 2-day ultramarathon of 100km. At this point, Darcey started to struggle with minor injuries but managed to push through and complete the 2-day ultramarathon.

3 weeks after this, Darcey and her dad flew to Jordan for the 5-day ultramarathon. They and the other runners were supported by a team of osteopaths, physiotherapists, and medics to check for heat stroke and any other health issues. Darcey said that none of the runners could have finished the event without their support.

The camp conditions for the runners were very adventurous, with 4 of the 5 nights spent in large Bedouin-style tents. On 1 of the nights, they slept on a rock face in their sleeping bags. Darcey said this was uncomfortable after running 72km that day but said sleeping under the stars was incredible.

Darcey and the runners experienced other challenges, such as struggling to eat after long days of running. It was also hard to run on the sand, with downhill ‘soft’ sand proving to be a real trial. But Darcey said she had an amazing experience and even got to run alongside her dad from day 3 of the race.

The runners were a constant source of support for each other, with everyone relying on the others at times. Darcey said she remembers one time when everyone helped one of the guys out after his luggage got lost at the airport. She said it was really inspiring to see a group of strangers who'd never met each other pulling together to get the unlucky runner everything he needed.

“This was honestly one of the most challenging things I've ever accomplished in my life. I've already started booking onto more ultras and I'm still in contact with all my 'desert friends'.
“I'm so grateful to have had the experience and to raise so much money in the process for such a wonderful charity.”

  - Darcey Dunne, Christie fundraiser

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