Pair prepare for punishing Jungle Marathon

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Two Lancaster University students have signed up to what is regarded by some as ‘the most dangerous race on earth’ to raise money for charity.

Richard Baron and Phil Harvey will undertake a gruelling 222km (140 mile) six-stage race through the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. The marathon takes place in extremely difficult conditions of around 35° heat and 80-90% humidity, with the contestants also having to deal with some interesting wildlife. They will be given various anti-venoms to deal with the dangerous local snakes, poison dart tree frogs and spiders, whilst also carrying approximately 15kg of equipment including food, water and first-aid packs.

The pair will put up with all of this and more in October of this year to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Kidney Research UK, charities that they both have personal links with.
Baron said the idea for joining the race came from an interview with the Royal Marines.

“They said that they look for applicants who had sought after an extreme physical challenge. I got back from the interview and typed in on Google ‘hardest races on earth’ and that popped up. Me and Phil had previously discussed that we’d like to go to the Amazon one day.”

In order to pass his Royal Marines tests, Richard had been unable to rest a long-standing ankle injury and as a result will be on crutches for a month. He says that training will begin in earnest in a few months’ time.

“Phil will be starting soon, and, after the month’s rest, I will begin cycling, rowing and swimming. Hopefully we’ll be fully getting into it in around 8 weeks or so, we’re both relatively fit anyway.”

At the height of their training, Baron and Harvey will be looking to run up to 100 miles a week and will be hoping to incorporate the sand dunes in Morecambe and Formby into their training regime.

Pressed on their chances of actually winning the race, Richard highlighted the strength of their opposition.

“I doubt we can win it, the majority of the runners will be veterans of the Marathon des Sables (a 6 day race across the Sahara Desert). We will give it our best shot though. The first three stages will vary between 10-15 miles, and we should be able to get decent times in those, despite the climate. Phil will be setting the pace on those stages, due to him being better over ‘shorter’ distances. I will then set the pace on the 60 mile stage, as I’m better over longer distances.”

The boat leaves on an overnight sail to the Jungle base camp on October 7 later this year and Stage 1 of the race begins on October 10.

To follow the pair’s training progress and preparation, or to donate, visit their blog at http://rickphilsjungleultramarathon.blogspot.com.

More information on the race can be found at http://www.junglemarathon.com.

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