Plastic surgeon to run marathon in the Sahara desert

Mr Patrick Gillespie, Consultant Plastic and Hand Surgeon at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital will be flying out to Morocco, to run the 'Marathon des Sables' (Marathon of the Sands) on Easter Sunday. 

Mr Gillespie will be running 250 kms over the Sahara desert in 35+ degrees, carrying all his food, clothes and gear for a week - the equivalent of 6 marathons including a double one on day 4.

Mr Gillespie will be running with a colleague Alan Getgood in aid of Marie Curie, here is his story as to why:

Easter 2012 - beach holiday; no sea, no chocolate, no refund

Alan and I worked together in Cambridge in 2003 and shortly afterwards along with his sister Ruth, a bunch of us hiked up Mt Kilimanjaro, in part to raise money for Marie Curie. Al and Ruth’s parents had died of cancer and just over a year ago, so did my father – need I say more? An increasingly difficult time at home was transformed by the skill and kindness of the combined medical and nursing team from Marie Curie.

Back in 2009, he caught me unawares and slipped in a quick question about running a race in the Sahara …… easy, just sign up here…….3 years zip past and it’s only a week to the start of the 2012 Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sands).

We’ll both admit to some prior form; I’ve run a few marathons and Al ran a 12 hour ultramarathon on the Mont Blanc trail, but this one’s different……styled as the 'toughest footrace on earth', it involves running across the Sahara desert for 250km over 7 days, carrying all your food and gear for the week. Six marathons in seven days, with a 50-miler in the middle to keep you on your toes.

We both made great plans to be REALLY fit for this – then Al carelessly fathered a couple of babies and I dived down some stairs before Xmas, so we’ll be relying a little more on will-power than leg-power than we’d hoped.

Our main training weekend on the North Downs in February started with 8 degrees below zero and finished with 8 inches of snow – great for the desert!

Both Al and Ruth became great friends of ours after 2003 and we were all shocked when Ruth lost the use of her legs after a fall from her horse in April 2011. As Al put it, ‘tough race, but not as tough as living with a spinal injury’.

So Al is raising money for Spinal Research and I’m supporting Marie Curie – you can see the link on this page for Marie Curie and Al’s page for Spinal Research. Basically, we’d both be more than grateful for any money towards either charity. Our runner numbers are 423 and 421 - soon to be seen on Eurosport !

What do Marie Curie do? - have a look here to see where the money goes. As my mother will testify, just a few hours of respite care from one of their nurses allowed her to grab her first few continuous hours of uninterrupted sleep for almost a week. The consultants advised on pain relief when the highly skilled local GPs reached the limits of their knowledge.

Mr Gillespie has started a 'Just Giving' page for Marie Curie:


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More information about Mr Patrick Gillespie

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Cosmetic Surgery at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital

Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital offers a wide range of cosmetic surgery procedures with Cosmetic and Plastic surgeons. Find out more

Hand and Wrist Surgery at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital

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