Official stage two report…

6 04 2010

…this just in from Harry:

Day 2….Temperature today was 46 celcius at the hotest pt. We started strong and enjoyed some fantastic scenery. The mood soon changed when we ran 10km across an open salt plain… it was a very hard slog in the heat and we used all our water well before the check point. This was followed by an ascent which actually uses ropes at one point to stop people falling back down. This was a brutal challenge and on the way home we had about 45 mins of sand dunes. Total time out today was 7 hours and we covered 35 km. Simon and I are in relatively good health. We have seen collapses, vomiting, lots of very sore feet and 5 to 10 peple have left the race. We are still doing well, saying that it isn’t easy and our shoulders are tenderised along with quite sore feet & muscle strain. Moral is good and we have plenty of food… thank goodness.





First news on stage two

5 04 2010

Update from Simon’s wife Adrienne on stage two….

“As for today’s stage nr 2, 35.5 km, they did it in almost 8 hours, but according to the map it was a hard, hilly terrain, indeed. Let’s hope they can cook themselves a great dinner, relax a bit tonight and get ready for the next day of this adventure.”





We have comms…

5 04 2010

The first official communication from the Loons on how stage one went:

Day 1 – RACE REPORT Stage 1; 29km Temp. 45c 1005 competitors representing 44 nations set out on a tough first day covering some testing climbs, rocky shale and dunes We flew through the 1st CP hit the dunes which slowed us and came into the 2nd CP pretty tired but pushed on for the final 7km. First marathon completed we started on our cook-athon! No blisters yet! Longer day tomorrow (35.5km) with what looks like some major climbs. Thank you for your e-mails, love to all friends and family.





One stage down…

4 04 2010

It is proving harder than we would have liked (for which we apologise) to get information out of the desert, but we can now say that Simon and Harry safely finished the first stage of 29 km between Irhs and Khermou in 5 hours and 15 minutes. “So,” in the words of Si’s wife Adrienne Lehoczki-Saunders, “So… well done the Loons!”

If you are interested in following the Loons’ route on day one, this is taken from the official website:

Treat yourself to satellite views of the Sultan Marathon des Sables: Retrace the route of the first stage thanks to GPS points: all you have to do is copy and paste on such sites as Google Maps or Google Earth
Bivouac 1 : N31 15.005 W4 22.393
Check point 1 : N31 08.695 W4 20.499
Check point 2 : N31 04.119 W4 21.053
Bivouac 2 : N31 00.677 W4 21.309





Under starters orders….

2 04 2010

Our intrepid athletes, now affectionally known as the Loons, eased into their adventure gently on Wednesday, for which a big thank you goes to Horvath Akos and the team at Amadeus, plus Malev for flights to Paris, and Le Meridien for a superb welcome. Si, who, for some reason, has become Loon II, said “If we could only maintain this level of luxury for the next two weeks, we’d come back fully relaxed.”

Thursday, however, started at a very uncivilised hour. Loon II, again: “Out to SUD ORLY at 4.20am and flight at 7am, we will be in the desert Friday night…”

Sleep well, Loons, and walk fast…

More news as we have it, we are expecting updates on a nightly basis, and will get them up here, on the facebook group and on the RBIF website as soon as possible.





A busy week for the fund raising appeal

21 03 2010

This last week has seen a lot of activity surrounding the fund raising appeal.

The race nights took place in the Caledonia and the Guinness House and so far we know that 200 000 HUF was raised in the Caledonia. Patrick ,Charles and Mary deserve a lot of credit for their organisation.

Harry’s mum Rosie Kinney and her helpers also had the Bring and Buy Sale in Islandmagee and raised a super 630 GBP in the morning. The day was good fun and Sarah’s cakes went down a treat!

We also had a Royal visit to the Children’s hospital SOTE II by HRH Duchess of Cornwall. I was very impressed at how she made herself available to the staff, patients and their parents. She asked about our training and understood the challenges of training for a desert marathon in the snow. George Beck the CEO from Vodafone made a very generous donation of 5 million HUF which is about 18000 Euro and this gave a real boost towards the target of 50 000 Euro.

Saturday night also saw the annual Irish Hungarian Business Circle Gala Dinner at the Meridien Hotel. There were 105 guests and we had the opportunity to promote the Robert Burns International Foundation / SOTE II fund raising campaign to the guests. We don’t know how much was raised yet but from conversations that took place during the evening there was an obvious amount of support and I am sure we will see some significant contributions coming in in the next week. Many thanks to Mark Downey, Eva Becke from the IHBC and Adrian Gray from the Meridien for their organisation of the evening.

It isn’t too late to donate so please visit the donations page and make your pledge or donation.
Many thanks to all who contributed and participated this week….Harry and Simon.





Budapest businesses backing Sahara marathon effort

6 03 2010

By Robin Marshall

Budapest businesses have begun to throw their weight behind a staggering charity fund-raising challenge that will see to two local expats tackle five-and-a-half marathons in six days in the furnace of the Sahara desert.

Officially known as the Marathon Effort For SOTE II, the appeal has an initial target of €50,000 to expand the number of mother and child distance trauma suites at the Second Department of Paediatrics at Budapest’s Semmelweis University Hospital, better known as SOTE II.

Harry Harron, from Ireland, and Briton Simon Saunders will take part in what is known as the toughest foot race on earth: the Marathon des Sables (MdS). The two men are the only Hungary-based entrants from an international field of 750, and the first for five years.

Perhaps appropriately, the Mds starts on April 1, but the appeal fund raising target is already approaching the half way mark. The largest contribution so far announced is from TESCO, which has made a €5,000 (HUF1.3 million) donation.

Medical sponsorship has come from FirstMed Centers Kft, who are providing ECGs and €375 (HUF100,000). Budapest Bank is putting up HUF200,000 for the upgrading of the SOTE hospital entrance. The first sponsor on board was PURE Wellness, City Home & Lifestyle Centre in Ó utca, which has been offering the two athletes free use of its facilities during their training programme.

Other sponsorship has come from Amadeus Magyarország Kft (which bills itself as the leading provider of IT solutions to your tourism and travel industry), bottled water company Visegádi, hotel group Le Meridien and sports goods and equipment store Decathlon Hungary.

“We are extremely grateful for the sponsorship we have received so far,” said appeal chairman Patrick McMenamin, who runs the popular Scottish pub the Caledonia Budapest on Mozsár utca. “And, of course, we look forward to hearing from many more sponsors to help us reach our target.”

And McMenamin is leading by example. Throughout March, HUF20 from the price of every large glass of Dreher sold at the Caledonia will be donated to the appeal.

“Of course, we still want to encourage people to drink responsibly, but if you normally drink something else, we would hope you might switch to Dreher to help raise funds for this month,” said McMenamin. He is hoping other bars in the city will follow suit.