DUBAI // Running an ultra marathon is a feat of endurance for any human, but taking on seven consecutive runs requires vast reserves of both physical power and mental strength.
Jamie Partington, 40, has been living that hardship for the last week, running 50kms a day in a bid to raise money to fund stem cell treatment for a friend suffering with multiple sclerosis.
Despite the grueling hardship of his last few steps, the beaming smile on British-born Mr Partington remained firmly in place as he finished the final leg of his epic challenge in Jumeirah Beach Residence on Friday.
It was the support from friends and family – as well as complete strangers – that carried him to the finish, he said.
“It’s difficult not to smile with all the support,” said Mr Partington, a business development manager. “These guys have kept me laughing all the way.”
The final day saw around 30 people run alongside him at various stages of the challenge, which began at 5am at JBR and saw him finish at the same spot in a record time of 6:12, much faster than the first days which averaged seven hours. Climbing temperatures through the day made life even tougher, peaking on Tuesday at 39C.
Doing the daily ultra marathons, classed as any distance further than a regular 42km marathon, Mr Partington, has raised around Dh25,000 for his friend Joost Bos, who needs stem cell treatment back home in Holland.
“He was such an active guy and within a year of his diagnosis in 2010, he was already wheelchair bound,” added Mr Partington, whose challenge was inspired by British comedian Eddie Izzard’s recent 27 marathons in 27 days.
His wife, Katharina has been getting up with him at 3.30am every day, lending her support and feeding 6,000 calories into her husband every day to fuel his run.
“At first he wanted to run 70kms a day, but I told him to reconsider that challenge,” she said. “He had done some marathons but hadn’t been training for this so I told him to reconsider.”
Her support has been crucial during the eight weeks of training, as well as the daily 50km runs, with Katherina cycling alongside her husband at some points during the week.
“He’s been so happy to be doing it and hasn’t complained at all or said he didn’t want to be doing it,” she said.
“I’ve loved it and actually would love to keep going,” he said. “It’s not just the physical challenge because I do love that but the support, what people have been saying, the people who’ve jumped in to run alongside me.”
Canadian Deidre O’Leary, 35, a petroleum engineer and keen ultra runner, saw Mr Partington on the first few days of the challenge and was inspired to join him on Friday.
“When I found out I thought it would be an honour to run with him doing something like this to help his friend,” she said.
“I know how hard it is. We do the seven emirates in seven days which is 50kms a day but we do that around November or December.
“What Jamie’s done is phenomenal. He was more powerful than the rest of us; the first one to leave the water stations and he was the one motivating us to keep going, not the other way around.”
Another friend, Evelyn McDermott, 42, who works in corporate training, had been following his journey on Facebook.
“I had to support him,” she said, deciding to do the last 13kms of the run. “The heat was a killer. It was way out of my comfort zone.”
Source: uae news