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MAG Desert Marathon - Training Diary - Posted By mag (mag) on 8th Feb 10 at 11:23am
Phil Halford - MAG Desert Marathon

Hello everyone! {Cool} I’m Phil Halford, I am a 42-year-old slightly overweight Dad who lives in Merton near East Surrey, and in just over a year’s time I’m going to be running 151 miles across the Sahara desert.

Yes, I have signed up to the Marathon de Sables. Known by many as the world’s toughest footrace, I’ll have to cover the distance in six days of intense sand and heat, carrying everything I need – water, shelter, food – on my back.
Right now you’re probably wondering two things: how? And why on earth!?
Well, the answer to the first question will lie on this forum because this is the start of my training diary. As a middle-aged asthmatic who has 13 months to get in shape I thought that chronicling my progress as I train both mentally and physically for this event might bring you some enlightenment, a bit of laughter, and possibly even some inspiration.
I have to confess I have one other motive for sharing my training trials and tribulations with you, and that brings me to why I’m taking on this pretty mad challenge.

I used to be a Royal Engineer in the British Army. Since 1993, when I left to become a professional explosive ordnance disposal operator, I have spent many years travelling around the world working in conflict affected areas including Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and many other African and south-east Asian countries clearing landmines, cluster bombs, rockets, missiles and aircraft dropped bombs.

The bottom line is I’ve seen with my own eyes the effect these terrible weapons have on communities and families: men women and children. They are completely indiscriminate and can ruin people’s lives, even years after a war or a conflict has ended.

I now work for a charity that’s based in Manchester called the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) which works in many of the places I’ve been to, removing these weapons and saving hundreds of people’s lives in doing so. I don’t travel as much as I used to but now advise MAG’s teams in the UK on best technical practice, drawing on my many years of experience in the field.

Now that I have a young family of my own it really brings home the horror of these weapons. I have asked myself what would I do if my son was at risk from standing on a landmine on the way to school or going out to play with his friends? I can only imagine I’d do everything I could to keep him safe and by the same token I want to do something to help the thousands of people who really do live in fear of these things everyday.

In short this is my motivation for wanting to put myself through an event like this. I’m taking on what seems like an impossible challenge in the hopes that I will be able to raise some money to support MAG’s work to rid the world of the scourge of landmines.

So, if you are reading this I hope you will help me reach my aim. Over the next year I am going to have to give up my evening glass of red (which will be really hard), chocolate biscuits (even harder!) and take on a gruelling training schedule.

I will be following a training schedule devised by Rory Coleman, an absolute machine of a man who has done the Marathon des Sable 6 times! He must be madder than I am. With a few marathons thrown in along the way and a 50 mile event in July I will have my work cut out for sure!

I will update this forum regularly and post as many pictures as possible to show you how I’m getting along! I promise the posts won’t all be this long either; I just wanted to properly introduce myself this time. And I also promise that any would-be doubters will regret underestimating me. I challenge you to put your money where your mouth is and sponsor me. The more money I raise the more pressure will be on for me to finish the race!

In the meantime have a look at MAG’s website for more details on just how important their work is, and how much these people need your support:

Phil Halford's Fundraising Page
Please donate any money you can.

Thanks, and wish me luck!

Re: MAG Desert Marathon - Training Diary - Posted By mag (mag) on 8th Feb 10 at 12:57pm
OMG Phil you must be mad, but great cause, and good luck!!! {Wink} Kate

Re: MAG Desert Marathon - Training Diary - Posted By nomoremines (nomoremines) on 8th Feb 10 at 1:11pm
Great work of luck with the training

Mark {Cool}

Re: MAG Desert Marathon - Training Diary - Posted By lynngoodburne (lynngoodburne) on 21st Jul 10 at 10:17pm
Is this a Phil Halford that once lived in Harrogate, doing excellent work here for MAG.