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Desert survival tips from Mr Cullen!

25th January 2018

Bored of your local gym or running around the parks of Chelsea, Battersea and Fulham? Then why not try something a little more exotic this Easter and go for a run in the Sahara Desert. This is what Mr Cullen, Year 4 teacher at Eaton Square School attempted in April 2010. He is now running the London Marathon in April for the Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

On the 3rd April 2010 I took part in one of the world’s most arduous physical challenges, the Marathon des Sables or Marathon of the Sands, to raise money for the charity Facing Africa. I ran the equivalent of six marathons in 7 days while carrying a backpack weighing up to 16kg (35 pounds) containing food and many more items. Here is the compulsory list of equipment required in the rules for the marathon des Sables:

Survival gear:

•Backpack or equivalent (I chose the Raidlight Runner however there are many more types and brands now on the market for ultra-marathon running)
•Sleeping bag (Marmot Atom Down- weighs 590grams). It gets cold at night!
• Anti-Venom pump (insect poison remover) This is to extract poison from bites from the  Deathstalker scorpion or the Desert Horned viper, two types of poisonous scorpions and snakes found in the Sahara.
• Torch with spare batteries
•Compass with 1°ree; or 2°ree; precision
•Knife with metal blade
•Tropical Disinfectant
• Signalling mirror
•One aluminium survival sheet
•A Distress flare
•Salt tablets
•Luminous signal stick (non-stop stage)

As well as the above list I had to carry all my food for 7 days and ensure that they were allowing at least 2800 calories a day. However, I was burning more than this running up and down the sand dunes. It was amazing how something savoury like biltong could kick start you after all those sickly sweet energy gels. So anyone following this will start to realise the dedication that goes into the all day and night running on the 50 mile leg. I eventually trundled into my desert camp at 7am after departing at 10 am the day before. I only had another 2 days to run at that point. I finally hit the finishing line a few pounds lighter, some huge blood blisters on my bandaged feet and some great stories to tell of my incredible experience in the beautiful Sahara Desert.

Mr Cullen is running the London Marathon for the Evelina London Children’s Hospital on 22nd April. Please support him here on:



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