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Running through the Sahara for a cause

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram For many who observed the Greek orthodox Easter, the hardest thing they have to do is eat modestly and give up meat and dairy for 40 days. But others spend their Easter doing far more strenuous things that the best of us would struggle with. Nevertheless, the spirit of the Greek Easter is not lost on them. John Nicola is an Australian Cypriot who is doing things a little differently this Easter. It seems he is someone who doesn’t stop for anyone. In the past six years, the 49-year-old has run 6 marathons and one ultra-tough 50 kilometre run. His latest venture is the Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sands), a six-stage running event that covers over 250 kilometres in the Sahara desert. Or to break down the numbers, that’s six marathons a day over six days over sand dunes, through the occasional sand storm and temperatures in the 40C range. As if that’s not hard enough, John and his fellow competitors are required to carry all their own supplies, which includes a sleeping bag, food, stove and anti-venom pack, all of which totals to 10 kilograms. Water, food and shade are provided by organizers who follow runners through their journey. Many would be asking why John is undertaking such a Herculean task, and sure enough he is not doing this completely for fun. In light of a 26-year career in the optometry industry, John is running to raise funds for the charity Optometry Giving Sight, an organisation that helps the less fortunate in Asian, African and Latin American countries to gain access to eye care. The charity runs on volunteers who travel to these areas to provide a simple eye exam and provide care as needed. At the time of writing, John had already raised over $17,000, just short of his $20,000 target. Updating his daily experiences on the marathon’s website, John explains how the experience , while physically demanding, was actually mentally cleansing. So while those of us observing Lent are cleansing through avoidance of certain foods, others like John are going to extreme lengths to achieve the goal. John is still raising money for his chosen charity, the Optometry Giving Sight. Do your bit by going to www.givingsight.org and going to John’s webpage, or check out his progress so far on www.facebook.com/myrunningodyssey.last_img read more