For those who have taken part in the Rat Race Dirty Weekend at Burghley, running it twice over would be a thought of hell, but for fundraisers Mark and Mike - that’s just one mad idea they’ve had to help raise funds for a worthy cause.
The two ‘macho’ men, Mark Thomas, 43, from Stamford and his life-long friend Mike Wenn, 32, from Stevenage will take on this year’s Rat Race.. twice, followed by two more ‘epic’ challenges to raise thousands of pounds for Stamford-based charity, The Phoebe Research Fund.
The pair have set themselves the target of raising £10,000 for the charity, which was founded in February 2015 by Stamford mum Zoe Crowson, to facilitate funding towards a possible cure for her daughter Phoebe who suffers from the rare skin disease Epidermolysis Bullosa.
Phoebe, aged six, was diagnosed with the condition soon after she was born, and has to deal daily with skin blisters which appear with the slightest touch - some of which are equivalent to a third degree burn.
Both Mark and Mike hope to raise the money needed to help fund research into the rare disease. To do this they have also set themselves the challenge of running this year’s London Marathon on April 24, followed by a ‘short’ walk from Stamford to Great Ormond Street Hospital on May 21. Not forgetting running the Burghley Rat Race twice - a total of 40 miles over 400 obstacles on May 7.
“I think I’ve gone mad!” said Mark. “To do all of this in the space of a couple of months is completely bonkers really - but we’ll try our best - all in aid of a good cause.”
Mark met Zoe and her daughter Phoebe, through his wife Laura, about a year ago and since then the two families have become good friends, including Phoebe and Mark’s daughter, Georgie, six, who often play together.
“I run the London Marathon every year and usually run for a large charity like The PSP Association or Sue Ryder,” said Mark. “But when I met Zoe and Phoebe, I thought this year I could run in aid of their charity to help raise awareness of the cause.”
Mark soon roped Mike in on his fundraising idea and the challenge has grown bigger and bigger since then.
“We decided to walk from Stamford to Great Ormond Street Hospital as Zoe and Phoebe have to visit regularly for surgery,” said Mark. “This will be the toughest challenge of all, as we will be walking just short of 100 miles throughout the day and night.”
In preparation, Mark has been getting up at 4.30 every Sunday morning to run the full circuit of Rutland Water.
“It’s been tough, but having a daughter the same age as Phoebe really makes you think how lucky we are,” said Mark. “She’s gone through so much at such a young age.”
Phoebe’s mum, Zoe is ‘over the moon’ that both Mark and Mike are taking on this triple challenge. She said: “I’m absolutely amazed at the triple challenge, to do the Rat Race once is amazing, but twice consecutively is simply incredible. I know how hard they have both trained and I hope everyone gets behind them. I’m hugely grateful.”
To sponsor Mark and Mike visit their JustGiving page.