Schoolchildren in Southwick are following the example set by the chairman of governors.
Simon Whitmore set off on Friday for the Marathon des Sables (MdS), known as ‘the toughest footrace on earth’, covering a distance of 257km across the Sahara.
To support his efforts, the children in each class and teachers at Glebe Primary School are completing three laps around the school field this week, in order to cover the same distance in total.
Head teacher Jo Kelly said: “What Simon took on is something very few people in the world will ever attempt or achieve.
“We are all so proud him and our thoughts were with him every burning hot step of the way.”
Before leaving, Simon told the children all about his challenge in a special assembly. Each class has been sending him emails, which the organisers have printed off to give him support.
As well as raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Alzheimer’s Society, Simon hoped his efforts would inspire the children to get active, too.
He flew out to Ouarzazate, Morocco, and after a day of preparation, started his journey across the unforgiving desert terrain on Sunday.
He walked the equivalent of three marathons in as many days but damage to his feet meant he had to pull out on Tuesday.
His wife, Lizzy, a teaching assistant at Glebe, said: “His feet are all blistered and he couldn’t even walk. He is very sad and very emotional about it.
“He has complete three marathons in three days in sand dunes, so I still think that’s amazing. I am mega, mega proud of him for even attempting this challenge.”
Throughout the journey, Simon had to be self-sufficient, carrying his own food and equipment from the start. The only thing he was allowed to pick up en route is water – and that was rationed.
Despite Simon having to stop, staff and children at Glebe remain keen to match the MdS distance on their own school field, with some running and some walking to achieve a total of 1,285 laps of the running track.
Simon’s daughter, Erin Whitmore, a year-six pupil at the school, said: “I think it is so great that my dad did this as it encourages everyone to be brave and take on new challenges.”
Her brother, Connor Whitmore, who is in year two at the school, said: “Well done, Daddy. I am missing you but I am so proud of you.”
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