Mario, 72, races 165 miles across the Sahara

Posted on Friday 5th September 2014
Evelina London fundraiser Mario Reballato during Marathon des Sables

Mario Reballato during Marathon des Sables

Mario Reballato, 72, from Kennington, has run a gruelling 165 miles over six-days across the Sahara desert to raise money for Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

The Marathon des Sables is known as ‘the toughest footrace on earth’ and this is the fifth time Mario has completed it. The race is the equivalent of six marathons in temperatures up to 50°c. He had to carry a heavy rucksack with sleeping gear and enough food to last six days.

Mario grew up in the Alps where he ran up mountain peaks for fun. He says: “I’ve always enjoyed a physical challenge. To me the Marathon des Sables represents, in my experience, the most difficult. It takes discipline – you need to physically and mentally prepare.

“There’s steep mountains and boulders so you have to watch your balance, especially with a heavy backpack. If you lose your footing, you’ve got nowhere to go but down, so it’s pretty dangerous.

“This year was the hottest it’s ever been. In my previous runs there was a cool breeze, but this year it was absolutely still.”

“From day one I had blisters on my feet. Before putting my running shoes on each morning, every step was like sticking needles in my feet.

Mario has volunteered at the hospital for more than 30 years after his sons “received amazing care there”.

“It’s really rewarding volunteering at Evelina London – I can’t stress how impressed I am with the care every time I come in. That’s why I put myself through this – every step means another penny to help this amazing hospital provide care for children.”

Mario plans to run the race again in 2016 for the hospital.

With the support of his employer Pimlico Plumbers, he raised £5,435.

You can still support on Mario's Just Giving page.