DAD Ric Hallikeri will be swapping the sands of Sunderland’s seafront for the searing heat of the Sahara Desert as he attempts a mammoth charity challenge next month.
Ric, of Silksworth, has signed himself up for the Marathon Des Sables, consisting of six marathons in six days across the African country of Morocco, battling 50 degree heat in the process.
His aim is to generate £5,000 in sponsorship for city respite centre for poorly children Grace House, in Southwick.
His decision to tackle the endurance race is even more amazing considering he only took up running less than two years ago in a bid to lose weight.
“It’s strange because I never ran that often until recently,” said Ric, 38, who runs his own company developing solar panel technology.
“A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to do the Sunderland 10k in 2013 and even though doing it I hated every step, I got an amazing sense of achievement and all the pain I had felt in the previous hour or so seemed to disappear.
I might struggle to put one foot in front of the other it’s going to be that hard!Ric Hallikeri
“I’ve done a few 10k runs now as well as the Great North Run and I think they will stand me in good stead, considering I’ll be carrying a 10 kilo bag so I have to be strong.
“This year, the organisers have decided the fourth day is going to be three marathons in one day, so that will make it 100k.
“I might struggle to put one foot in front of the other it’s going to be that hard!
“But I think I’m fit enough now, it’s just the mental side of things I need to be aware of.”
The Sultan Marathon Des Sables is now in its 30th year and as such has been adapted so that there will be three marathons held in one day, meaning Ric will cover 100k in 24 hours.
He has also been given advice from world-renowned adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, after they met while doing the 66-mile Pilgrim Challenge across the North Downs Way in Surrey earlier this year. “It was a highlight meeting him and he’s also running in April so he’ll be a big help,” added Ric, who is married to Louise, 39, with who he has daughter Sofia, five, and Blake, three.
“I have not ran much since the Pilgrims due to an old ankle injury, so I’ve been at Sunderland SR1 Crossfit gym three to four times a week trying to keep myself strong and in shape during my rest.”
Ric has so far raised £1,830 towards his target and says it would the icing on the cake to complete the challenge and smash through the £5,000 barrier.
“Grace House is one of those charities that becomes close to your heart,” added Ric.
“When you have children, you never know when you might need to use them one day so I really wanted to help them out.”
l To sponsor Ric, who jets off to Morocco on April 3 and begins the Marathon Des Sables two days later, go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com and search for Ric Hallikeri.
Those wanting to give a personal donation should call or text Ric on 07415 884000.