A football player from Hemel Hempstead will trade turf for sand dunes when he tackles an ultra marathon through the desert to raise money for his coach who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
Lee Stobbs, 24, plays for AFC Dunstable under the tutelage of coach Steve Jackman, who has found his life altered due to the severity of his illness – and Lee is eager to give something back.
“After running the London and New York marathons last year, I wanted another challenge – something bigger and completely out of my comfort zone,” he said.
“Before I had time to comprehend what I’d agreed to do, I was already signed up so there was no going back.
“When I found out that Jacko’s condition had progressed to a point where he could no longer drive his own car, I decided this was the cause I wanted to support.
“I wanted to raise money to buy him an adapted vehicle that would meet his needs and mean he could have his freedom back. Jacko is a top bloke and a brilliant football coach and there should be no reason his life should be any different just because of his condition.”
Lee has been training hard for his challenge – which will see him run 170 miles over seven days in the Grand Canyon desert – but admits nothing will be able to fully prepare him for the gruelling task.
“I’ve had to juggle training with football, but my manager at AFC Dunstable, Steve Heath, has been very supportive and understanding with it all,” said Lee.
“A big part of my lead-up to the event has been to train my brain to focus; this event is as much about the mental aspect as it is physical.
“It’s going to be very tough; the heat in the day will no doubt take its toll, while the temperature in the evenings has been known to drop to minus figures.
“I have to pack clothes for both eventualities, while obviously making sure I take as little – or as lightweight – stuff as possible because it’s going to be on my back the whole time.”
“I think the only approach is to take each day as it comes, stay positive, strong and never forget why I’m doing this – that should push me to the finish line.”
Lee, who lives in Gadebridge, chose the Grand to Grand Ultra race to test himself on ‘one of the hardest ultra marathons out there,’ and says he is eager to push himself to the limit.
“The risks and dangers are very real,” he said. “It doesn’t take a genius to work out that running in 30-degree heat with 7kg on your back up sand dunes all day everyday for seven days is not what we were designed for.
“It’s exciting to be able to test what I’m really made of.
“I have had immense support so far. Everyone has been so generous and I will be forever thankful for that.”
To support Lee in his challenge, please visit www.gofundme.com/a90lws