Hints & Tips
What makes a man want to run for 156 miles, the equivalent of five and a half normal marathons, in temperatures up to 100 degrees, across some of the most hostile terrain on the planet, carrying his supplies on his back? That’s what I asked enthusiastic runner and the man behind British industry treasure, Allett Cylinder Mowers, our friend Austin Jarret.
Yes. In early April, Austin is embarking on what has to be one of the hardest challenges a human being can face. The Marathon Des Sables is described as the toughest land race in the world, “a gruelling adventure through a formidable landscape in one of the world’s most inhospitable climates – the Sahara desert.”
Anyone who saw James Cracknell’s recently televised diary of his ordeal running the same race, will know what a truly intrepid endeavour this is.
Why would anyone want to put himself or herself through this? I asked Austin this very question.
“I’m 50 this year and it’s my birthday present to myself… I wanted to do something for charity but wanted an event that would have the wow factor, something that would get people’s interest… what would be the toughest? If you are going to take on a challenge, why not take on the hardest?”
Why not indeed? But how do you prepare for something like this? I asked Austin, not exactly an unfit man in the first place, if he had changed his diet to get ready for this extra challenge.
“You have to work at it… it was important to be at the right weight for several reasons,” he told me. “Too much fat in the body and you can’t get cool, and the more weight you carry, the more energy you need. I’ll be carrying all my own gear so will be burning 6000 to 8000 calories per day. You need energy to cope with that.”
He has gone from 84 kilos to a target weight of 78. Up to 18 months ago, Austin had only run a half-marathon and as he said he had to “up the ante, so I worked up from 50km races to ultra marathons. I probably did about 10 last year.” Ultra marathons are races of over 150km. This is not a jog in the park.
But Austin isn’t just racing for himself. He is using the opportunity to raise money for four separate charities and is paying the full cost of his expenses himself so every penny he gathers goes to the causes he has chosen.
Austin told me his charities are chosen either for universal appeal, Help For Heroes and The Eve Appeal, or a personal interest – the VSO for example. He joined and worked for the VSO after college and has strong ideas about how foreign aid should be distributed. The final benefactor is Oak Tree Farm, a charity local to Austin’s home that helps give agricultural training to young adults with learning disabilities. The money will be shared equally, with 25% going to each charity.
And what was the reaction of family to this life-changing event? Austin has three grown-up children and it can’t be that common for your father to tell you he’s just popping off to take part in one of the world’s most difficult physical challenges.
“My kids expect me to do wild things so they won’t be surprised,” he said. Then he added, in a splendidly matter-of-fact manner, “However, we are having a family meeting at the weekend to go over the will. Not everyone finishes this race you know.”
I have to say that his attitude and determination don’t surprise me. He is clearly a man of integrity, full of passion for work and life, and someone who is ready to face challenges head on. This is evident both in the way he runs and promotes his business and the way he is approaching this extraordinary test of spirit and stamina. He is a man who is literally ready to go the extra mile.
If you would like to both support him and contribute to the worthy causes he is supporting, further information can be found here.
You can track his progress through the desert from Sunday 6th April when the race starts. Austin’s race number is 667.
Everyone here at MowDirect wishes Austin all the luck in the world.
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