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Brother and sister team tackle our 100k London to Brighton trek

Date
15 November 2013 13:05

Clare and Mark Saunders, a brother and sister team from Ashington, West Sussex completed our 100k London to Brighton trek.

A brother and sister team from Ashington, West Sussex had an unforgettable experience as they tackled summer's toughest trek. Clare and Mark Saunders, whose Grandfather and elder brother are both veterans, decided to take on our 100k London to Brighton trek, in which we challenge walkers to complete over a weekend and in just 24 hours.

We are now calling on others to sign up for the 2014 London to Brighton 100k mammoth challenge for which there are still spaces.

Clare, who works as an Event Co-ordinator for PalmerSport, said: "Our Granddad served in Burma and our brother in varying countries including Germany, Ireland and Bosnia. We have seen firsthand the dedication and sacrifice members of the Armed Forces make, which is why we embraced the opportunity to give a little something back to a charity that supports those of them that suffer with sight loss. We both felt that this was incredibly important."

Clare adds: "I also suffer from severe migraines whereby I lose my vision completely for anything between 30 minutes to several hours. I always know that my sight will return and the thought of it not returning honestly terrifies me.  I have the upmost respect for the veterans that the charity supports. To me, walking 100km was the very least I could do."

The annual trek, is our biggest fundraiser, taking walkers from south London, through countryside paths in Surrey, Sussex and the North and South Downs, and ending at our centre in Ovingdean, Brighton. Lines are now open for next year's walk and there is currently an early bird rate available to all those who register before 31 October 2013.

Clare said: "The walk for us both was a true test of strength, both mentally and physically.  I have never taken part in an endurance event before and honestly did not really know what to expect!  The highs for me were taking part, crossing the finish line and playing pooh sticks at every available opportunity!

"The low came at about 3am for me and about 7am for Mark.... I hurt, I was tired and I needed a hug... luckily my eldest brother delivered some wonderful motivational words (and the hug!) and it got me through. Our family's support throughout the event was paramount to us making it to the finish line - knowing they would be waiting for us was like gold dust."

Simon Brown gave a prep talk to all of the walkers before they set off on the trek.

Simon was 28 when he was shot in the face whilst saving the lives of six comrades whose vehicle had broken down in Iraq where he was serving with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The damage to his face was catastrophic and it took many pioneering operations to rebuild his face. He lost all of the sight in one of his eyes and has 20% left in the other eye.

After taking various rehabilitation courses through the charity, Simon has an IT qualification and has studied teaching at college. Now, seven years on, he's living his life to the full and works in the headquarters of Blind Veterans UK as its Membership Officer. Simon is also a public speaker on behalf of the charity and gave a motivational talk to all of the walkers before they starting the gruelling trek. As a testament to his achievements, Simon was recognised for his contribution to charity with a General Officer Commanding Commendation.

Clare says: "Simon's speech at the beginning of the event kept us both going through all of the tough parts, and has continued to do so since we completed the event."

We still have places for our 2014 100K walk. Taking place over the weekend of Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 June 2014, the cost of a space is £99 per person or £120 per relay team. The charity is also introducing two man relay teams so that for the first time people will be able to take part in twos and walking 50km of the trek each.

The all-inclusive entrance fee for participants includes hot food at three rest stops, snacks and refreshments along the route, first aiders en route as well as a free event t-shirt.

To find out more and to sign up for Blind Veterans UK's London to Brighton walk, visit: http://walk100.org.uk/sign-up/