Sheffield's Chris marks retirement by running solo across the Gobi Desert

Running over one thousand miles alone through one of the world's most remote regions is not many people's idea of retirement, but Sheffield's Chris Heaton is out to prove otherwise in his support of South Yorkshire's only children's hospice.

Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 10:51 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 10:57 am

Chris, who retires as Group Managing Director of OSL Group Holdings on 30 June, will mark the life event by aiming to become the first person to ever run solo across the Gobi Desert, and in doing so, raise funds for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.

Chris will fly out on 11 July, travel for four days to the western border of the Gobi Desert, which covers northern China and Southern Mongolia, and start running on 16 July. He isn’t planning to stop until he reaches Saynshand in the east, approximately 1800 kms or 1150 miles from his starting point.

​Chris said: “I aim to cross the Gobi in about 30 days. There have been a few walking crossings, but I believe this will probably be the first wholly solo run. Temperatures will reach over 40°c in the day but plummet to zero or less at night, so it will be a huge challenge.”

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Chris is being helped by David Scott of Sandbaggers on the organisation of the event, the route and support crew. Speaking of the Gobi crossing, David said:

“Freezing nights, blisteringly hot days and ferocious winds will be Chris’ constant companions as he battles across the length of the Gobi desert this summer. He’ll take on 1800km of mountains, sand dunes and seemingly endless stretches of sun-baked desert plain in his quest to run the length of one of the world’s remotest areas. That might sound easy, but it won’t all be fun. He’ll also have to contend with sleep deprivation, rough sleeping, wolves, snakes, scorpions, flash floods, electrical storms and all manner of unexpected trials and tribulations.”

Luckily, Chris has form when it comes to extreme endurance events. He said: “In my 50s I’ve run ten marathons in ten days and was the 30th person to do so. I ran an ultra-marathon across Iceland, and marathons across frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia, across the ice cap in Greenland and down frozen rivers in Mongolia. I did two London Marathons dressed in a suit and in full DJ and black tie.

​“Perhaps my greatest run to date was in 2013, completing 30 marathons in 30 days. Challenge 30 was solo, unsupported, with no physio, on two of the toughest UK marathon courses in the Lake District.

“My passion has always been to support children for whom life has been unkind. Bluebell Wood provides amazing love and care for children and their families so if people are kind enough to make a donation as their support for my challenge, that’s brilliant. It’s important to know that, maybe surprisingly, Bluebell Wood has to raise virtually all of its £4 million operating costs each year from scratch. So a little kindness makes a huge direct difference. Thank you.”

Rachael Dawes, Corporate Fundraising Manager, Bluebell Wood, said: “We’re absolutely blown away by Chris’ support and his willingness to take on the most incredible endurance test for Bluebell Wood and the children and young adults we support. The thought of running a distance like that, let alone in the conditions Chris will be facing, is probably outside most people’s imaginations. We will be cheering him on every step of the way and can’t wait to hear all the stories he will certainly be bringing back.”

You can sponsor Chris at Run The Gobi

To find out how you can help Bluebell Wood and the 250 children they care for at the hospice and in the community, please visit Bluebell Wood