Fitness fanatic Annie Dougall is taking on her greatest physical challenge this month when she competes in the gruelling Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon in South Africa.
Annie, a billing manager with Sembcorp Bournemouth Water (SBW), is among a seven-strong Sembcorp global team taking part in the 155 mile (250km) test of endurance.
The seven day run, across the Northern Cape close to the South African border with Namibia, begins on October 27 and comprises an energy-sapping combination of desert and mountainous terrain.
The 40 contestants each carry a backpack of around 12 kilograms, or just under two stone, consisting of an essential daily water supply plus food, clothes and safety equipment for the event.
They’ll follow in the footsteps of the ancient bushmen through the fertile vineyards of the Orange River Valley, across rocky outcrops and into the desolate Kalahari desert.
Annie, who lives at West Moors, will run in daytime temperatures of more than 45 degrees Celcius (113 degrees Farenheit) and sleep under canvas in temperatures close to zero.
She’ll cover between 16 and 48 miles a day, with the longest stage seeing Annie running the equivalent of almost two marathons in a single day. In the interests of safety all participants are subject to strict medical checks and monitoring along the route.
The seven Sembcorp employees from around the world, including Annie, are part of the company’s biggest ever fundraising drive.
The Sembcorp Group has set a target of raising £250,000 for charities in the UK and Singapore, with Annie hoping to raise £10,000 for WaterAid and the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation.
A seasoned long distance runner, Annie already has 18 marathons and ten ultra-distances under her belt, together with a number of Three Peak and Six Peak Challenges. As part of her preparation for the Kalahari Extreme Marathon she has completed four marathons this year, all hilly and coastal apart from London.
“I love distance events and particularly team events but the Kalahari is going to be the challenge of a lifetime,” Annie said. “I’m really excited about it and making new friends along the way, but it’s going to be a tough one.”
Roger Harrington, SBW’s managing director, added: “This is a fantastic thing for Annie to do and one which will be really challenging.
“Through her efforts she will help us raise money for two very deserving charities. The John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation is local and was established to help young people in pursuit of their ambitions. WaterAid, of course, is very close to our hearts in the water industry as it provides safe water and sanitation to people in developing countries. Services which we take for granted.”
The prestigious Kalahari event is well established on the international calendar of trail running events with twenty-eight runners taking part last year. Each year around 15 to 20 per cent of competitors don’t finish due to heat stroke, dehydration, blisters and sickness.
To sponsor Annie, go to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/sembcorpbournemouthwater