Firefighter set to brave desert heat
Todd Byers taking part in gruelling foot race to benefit RVH
By Marg. Bruineman - The Barrie Examiner
Updated 2 days ago
Todd Byers could be considered extreme in his sporting choices.
In April he's heading for Morocco to compete in the most gruelling foot race ever conceived – Marathon Des Sables – 251-kilometre, seven-day stage race in the desert. It's a gruelling event that has captivated television viewers over the years, particularly in Europe.
His personal goal is simply to complete the race. But his other goal is to raise $10,000 for Barrie's Royal Victoria Hospital.
"It is a race, but the goal is to finish," said the affable Barrie firefighter. "I'm not an ultra-marathoner by any means, I just want to finish this."
But Byers does have the running experience, having completed half marathons as well as marathons in the past. But that's not all.
He has also climbed some of the tallest mountains, and is almost half way to having completed the Seven Summits – the tallest peak of every continent. He's reached the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, Aconcagua in South America and Denali, or Mt. McKinley in Alaska.
Although he says he's not sure if the Seven Summits is on his bucket list.
What he's focusing on is April's race and, more immediately, raising money for the hospital. He's already half way to his fund-raising goal and he's hoping he'll make a significant dent in the second half with an upcoming event.
On Saturday, March 19, The Bank Nightclub on Dunlop Street East is hosting an event beginning at 6 p.m. The $15 entry fee will be given in its entirety to RVH. Blues Biscuit will provide the entertainment and there will be a silent auction and prizes. More information is available at www.desertrunforrvh.com .
Byers said his efforts have been supported by many groups and businesses, but the race itself is a solo affair. He's responsible for hauling his own food and supplies for the week. Daily rations of nine litres of water and a sleeping cover are provided.
He doesn't even know anyone else participating in the competition this year.
"I'm really going into this alone," he said.
The race begins with three daily stages of about 32 km each. The fourth stage is 80 km, much longer than a marathon. The sixth and final stage is up to 20 kms. Clearly there are risks running such long distances in the desert. Runners have been lost for up to nine days and at least two have actually died.