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Rob James in the Atacama Desert

MU's Marathon Man

Manchester United employee Rob James has completed a gruelling seven day race across the Atacama desert.

| by Rachael Pilsbury

Manchester United's Marathon Man Achieves Second Place in Charity Desert Run

Rob achieved second out of 75 runners in the punishing endurance event, averaging a marathon a day and losing out only to seasoned ultra-marathon man Dean Karnazes.

The Atacama crossing is part of the 4 Desert series and took place between 30th March and 5th April.  Competitors in the event run, on average, a marathon a day and must carry all their personal food and equipment throughout the race. The race starts at 11,000ft and the course crosses through freezing glacial rivers, hundred-foot slot canyons, mountain passes, vast crusty salt flats and lunar like valleys. The Atacama Desert is some 15 million years old and renowned as the driest place on Earth.  The daytime temperature can reach highs of 40 Celsius (100 Fahrenheit) and drop below freezing after sunset.

Rob James said: “It was great to be able to raise funds for the Foundation doing something I enjoy, but which is really challenging. Hopefully I have helped to raise awareness of the work the Foundation does.”

But ever the competitor, raising money wasn’t the only thing on Rob’s mind:

"I knew it would be a tough race and whilst doing it for charity was the main goal, I was secretly hoping for a top five placing. Lots can go wrong but I'm happy to have achieved second place. It was great to be able to meet and run with people from different backgrounds, including a blind Korean runner and one of the world's leading ultra-runners."

Chief Executive John Shiels said:  “We would like to say a big thank you to Rob.  We are proud to be associated with him as he is the picture of hard work and dedication and an excellent role model for young people.  

The Foundation is looking for people who wish to fundraise through sporting challenges.  John Shiels said:

“We were delighted that Rob chose to run for the Foundation, he was the first person to fundraise for us in this way and we will be looking to develop sporting and personal challenges as a form of fundraising in the future.  Not only do these events give people a goal to work towards and promote leading a healthy lifestyle, but they really encourage people to get involved in our work.  We are keen to hear from anyone who is interested in getting involved.”