DUBAI // After 25 years’ serving in the British army in some of the most fractious combat zones, you would have thought retired Colonel David Radford-Wilson would want to put his feet up to mark his 50th birthday.
Instead, the landmark on Wednesday was celebrated with another gruelling midnight run near his Arabian Ranches home in preparation for the world’s most infamous footrace – the 256 kilometre Marathon Des Sables.
The marathon is ranked among the toughest in the world and the former soldier is taking on the challenge in the hope of raising more than Dh77,000 for a British charity that helps wounded servicemen and women return to civilian life.
“I injured my back falling down a drainage ditch on patrol during a tour in Afghanistan in 2008 and the doctors said I should not consider running again,” said the father of three.
“I hadn’t done much running up until considering this event last year. Ten years ago I was deputy leader of the British Army Everest expedition, now I’m 50 I wanted to do something similar.
“My friends of the same age were celebrating with parties or nice holidays, I wanted to do something slightly more useful.
“Once we moved to Dubai where it is hot and sandy, a friend reminded me I was in the perfect place to prepare for this kind of race.”
Although his soldiering days are behind him, Col Radford-Wilson wanted to retain his like to his life an uniform and contribute to the welfare of veterans by raising money for Walking with the Wounded, a charity endorsed by Prince Harry.
The charity was established in 2010 and raises funds for the re-education and re-training of servicemen and women wounded in the line of duty.
Col Radford-Wilson, who now works for AECOM in it’s Middle East management services department in Dubai, is looking forward to his six-day desert race beginning in April.
“When I first decided to do this it was the end of last summer,” he said.
“It was still very hot, so running was soul destroying. I knew I had a very long way to go to prepare. By the time we run in early April, it will be like a full-on Dubai summer day with sandstorms and intense heat.
“We carry all our own food and sleeping bag. Every time you finish a stage there are temporary shelters with water. It has been hard work combining family life with a lot of running.”
His current training schedule involves running about 50 miles a week. Although he wants to be in the best condition he possibly can be, and to complete the race in a respectable time, Col Radford-Wilson said he will be happy to just be fit enough to survive.
“I’m hoping it will be more mind over matter,” he said.
For more information, and to donate, log onto virginmoneygiving.com/DaveRadfordWilson
Source: uae news