Runners will take on desert for ill children

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FIVE runners from Bognor Regis are set to take on the world’s toughest challenge.

Ian Bayley, Colin Hiscock, Chris Gallagher, Gary Pidgeon and Luke Simmonds intend to complete the Marathon des Sables. This is a 155-mile footrace through the Sahara Desert in 50C heat.

The event is as much about mental stamina as physical ability and the team, called the Bognor Dune Runners, has decided to dedicate its challenge to the Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice.

It will be collecting for 
the hospice at two shows which are being staged on its behalf at the Alexandra Theatre next week.

Ben Richards and Friends on October 24 will feature TV and stage star Ben, along with special guest Portia Emare in a musical celebration of the past six decades.

The funds collected at the show will enable the runners, members of the Felpham-based Tone Zone Runners, to complete the challenge of some 251kms in six days.

A spokesman for them said: “We all agreed the hospice was the perfect choice of charity to support as we were aware of the important work carried out there.

“After a visit to Chestnut Tree House, this has provided us with the perfect incentive and motivation for the challenge ahead.”

The Marathon des Sables is a gruelling multi-stage adventure through a formidable landscape in one of the world’s most inhospitable spots.

“The rules require you to be self-sufficient, to carry with you on your back everything, including water, that you need to survive.

“You are given a place in a tent to sleep at night, but any other equipment and food must be carried.

“This challenge will push us to our absolute limit in strength and stamina.

“But, at the back of our minds and at the heart of our fundraising, will be the children of Sussex who need us to raise the much-needed funds to continue the service they rely upon.”

The runners will be at both performances of Ben Richards and Friends at 
3pm and 7.30pm.

Tickets for the evening performance have proved popular. More are left for the afternoon show. They cost £14.50 for adults and £13.50 concessions from the theatre’s box office on 01243 861010.

Ben, who comes from Bognor, appeared in top series such as The Bill and Footballers’ Wives on television.

He recently starred in 9 To 5 and is about to go on stage in in Oliver! at Sheffield.

He will split profits from his shows in half between the hospice and Bowel Cancer UK. He is a patron of the hospice and has visited it several times, and has recently overcome bowel cancer.