Determined Rebecca Drackley is taking on the toughest footrace on earth by running 250km across the Sahara desert to raise money for assistance dog charity Canine Partners.
Rebecca, 37, from Leicester, but now living in Birmingham, started taking on the Marathon des Sables 2016 race in southern Morocco on Friday 8 April along with around 1,300 other extreme runners from across the world.
The student paramedic hopes to raise £750 by completing the equivalent of five and a half marathons in six days for Canine Partners, which trains assistance dogs to transform the lives of disabled people.
The dogs are trained to perform tasks such as opening and closing doors, undressing, pressing buttons, retrieving items, unloading washing machines, taking card and cash from ATMs and other everyday tasks that people with disabilities find difficult, painful or impossible to do for themselves.
Rebecca said: “I saw the Marathon des Sables on TV in my teens and thought it looked like an amazing race, something only for the elite. I want to prove to myself and others who don’t consider themselves as “proper” runners that anything is possible. The mind is a powerful thing and if I am nothing else then I am very strong willed!
“Preparation was disrupted by foot injuries and niggles as well as the usual work-life struggles having recently taken on a new career.
“I first became aware of Canine Partners when Valiant came to my former workplace as an assistance dog for Sarah. Shortly after I was on Remembrance Parade in Leicester with my Reserve Unit and at the head of the parade was a veteran with his assistance dog. I decided then that my next charity race would also be in aid of Canine Partners.
“I have my own dog, Brindle, who lives with my parents and seeing how she has helped keep my dad active since he retired following a knee replacement shows just what a positive impact a dog can have on our lives. Canine Partners do amazing and tangible work.”
Canine Partners was formed in 1990 and has partnered more than 600 assistance dogs across the UK to date. These amazing dogs have changed the lives of those they are helping: restoring independence, giving family members peace of mind, allowing their disabled partners to return to work and even saving lives by responding in emergencies.
Sian Wilson, Event and Challenge Co-ordinator for Canine Partners, said: “Rebecca is undertaking a phenomenal challenge and is certainly going the extra mile to raise money for Canine Partners.
“Canine Partners does not receive any government funding and relies solely on donations so all the money Rebecca raises from this incredible feat will enable us to partner more disabled people with our amazing assistance dogs.”
The Marathon des Sables, which is ranked by the Discovery Channel as the toughest footrace on earth, is a grueling multi-stage adventure with rules which require runners to be self-sufficient in carrying everything on their back except water that they need to survive. Participants are given a tent to sleep in but any other equipment and food must be carried.
To sponsor Rebecca visit www.justgiving.com/Rebecca-Drackley2mds.