A 250km run across the Sahara Desert: our fantastic fundraiser raises £4,400 for Renewable World
The Marathon des Sables is a 250km race across the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco. An incredibly tough challenge, but one that fundraiser Olivia Brindle was prepared to take on to raise vital funds for Renewable World.
Once she had recovered from her extreme running challenge, we caught up with her to find out all about her challenge, fundraising and how our emotive case studies attracted her to fundraise for Renewable World.
An interview with Olivia
Renewable World: Olivia, you fundraised an incredible £4,400 (£5,013.75 with Gift Aid). Can you tell us how you raised this amazing amount?
Olivia Brindle: I joined a new company a few months before doing the Marathon des Sables, and the majority of the fundraising came from my generous colleagues! I work for Swiss Re, a major re-insurer, which is a big supporter of sustainability initiatives and works towards increasing resilience to climate change – so I think that alignment of interests definitely helped.
RW: The Marathon des Sables is a very tough challenge. Over 6 days, you covered over 250km across the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco. How did you train for this and how long did you train for?
OB: I trained for around 6 months, though of course I did not start from scratch and already had a good base of fitness. I trained for the running just like I would for any other ultra – ramping up the mileage progressively and using shorter races for practice in the preceding months. I also made sure to run in all sorts of conditions and on all sorts of terrains. But what made the Marathon des Sables training unique was actually all the other stuff: the heat training (Bikram yoga!), running with ever heavier packs (up to 10kg) and constantly testing and refining my kit (including the food I would be eating during the race).
RW: As you know, Renewable World empowers energy-poor people to lift themselves out of poverty. Why did you decide to fundraise for us?
OB: I have almost always supported charities which are in some way linked to the environment or conservation – it’s something I feel very strongly about. Sometimes, though, it is hard to know what exactly your money goes towards and how it makes a difference. The thing that really stood out about Renewable World was how tangible the impact is: you can read detailed case studies of how the organisation is helping real people and changing real lives. It’s not just a list of generic campaigns. I was really drawn to that!
RW: The challenge is renowned for testing endurance – how did you keep yourself motivated during the event, with 50-degree heat and desert terrain?
OB: I never really found it that difficult, I have to say. When you sign up for something a year in advance and spend 6 months preparing for it, there really is no alternative but to keep your head down and keep going. Failure or giving up is not an option!
RW: Once you have recovered from this challenge, which challenge will you consider taking on next, to raise money for Renewable World?
OB: I will certainly keep seeking out more endurance events, focused on running – I am aiming for a 100-mile race like the UTMB Mont-Blanc next year.
RW: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about fundraising and doing a challenge event for Renewable World?
OB: Definitely, definitely, definitely go for it! And before you start fundraising, do read some of the stories on the website so that you can give people examples of the work Renewable World does. I think that certainly helped to stimulate interest, not just in donating money for my own cause, but in the work of the organisation more generally.
RW: Thank you so much Olivia – we are incredibly grateful for the funds you have raised for Renewable World. This will help us continue to tackle poverty in Nepal and Kenya through the provision of affordable renewable energy systems for energy-poor communities.
Inspired by Olivia’s fundraising journey? Sign up for one of our challenge events or select a challenge event of your choice. Our vision is a world where renewable energy is readily accessible to all, helping to end extreme poverty and reduce climate change. You can help make this happen by joining #TeamGreen.