A Brighton and Hove Albion fan is going to extreme lengths to raise money for the club’s official charity - inspired by the memory of his late father-in-law.
Iain McCallum is taking on the six-day, 156-mile Marathon de Sables this April and has been preparing for the challenge by running at least 10 miles every day since September, as well as running between his Shoreham home and the American Express Community Stadium for Seagulls home games.
The event, which is known as the toughest foot race on earth, sees runners tackle the inhospitable terrain and extreme heat of the Sahara, where temperatures are expected to reach 50 degrees centigrade during the race.
Participants are also expected to be completely self-sufficient and carry all their supplies and bedding on their backs.
But Mr McCallum, who is also training regularly at Brighton Boxing Fitness, said he can’t wait to get started.
“It’s an event that has been on my radar since I began running,” he said. “I liked the idea of pushing yourself where no one else could ever push you. It’s every runner’s dream to take part.”
As an avid Seagulls fan, Mr McCallum decided to run in aid of the club’s official charity, Albion in the Community (AITC). And he has extra motivation for taking on the extreme challenge - the loss of his father-in-law, Glenn Whitehead.
Mr McCallum’s wife Laura used to sit alongside her dad at Albion matches before he sadly lost his life in 2001.
“Glenn had a brain tumour and we lost him on our wedding day,” said Mr McCallum. “He was a massive Seagulls fan. I truly believe if he were still around, seeing the work the AITC does, he would be so proud. So this run is for Glenn.”
AITC is now the largest provider of disability football opportunities in the area and the money raised from Mr McCallum’s mammoth run will help fund that work, and the charity’s other projects throughout Sussex.
Having seen the impact AITC has in the local community, Mr McCallum, who has run eight previous marathons, is determined to do all he can to help the charity.
He said: “There’s a real internal drive to raise as much as I can. For me, running is the easy bit.
“The strongest people are the beneficiaries that AITC works with. They are stronger than I ever will be.”
But surely the thought of taking on such an epic challenge must be daunting?
“I’m not sure how my body is going to react to the intense heat, different terrain and feeling like I’m carrying the world on my back for the week,” said Mr McCallum. “It’s a new challenge, but one I’m very excited about.”
Mr McCallum can be sponsored online at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/IainMcCallum