Desert warrior

Shereen D’Souza meets Hichame Moubarak, a Qatar-based ultra-endurance athlete who plans to trek across four of the world’s most inhospitable deserts for a worthy cause Discuss this article

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Imagine walking 250km through a treacherous desert in only six days. Now, imagine doing that four times a year. Sounds impossible (and very, very painful), we thought, until we met Hichame Moubarak. The Qatar resident has taken on the 4 Deserts Grand Slam challenge, where he will cover 1,000km through four of the world’s most inhospitable deserts – the hottest, the windiest, the coldest and the driest. He’s doing so to help 1,000 people have something we take for granted every day – clean water.

Why pick Charity Water as your cause?
I thought about what could possibly make a huge positive impact on the less fortunate. I train on an average for 20 hours per week, and hydration is part of my routine. Once I was training in the desert and ran out of water. This made me realise how important it is. It also made me realise that so many people around the world didn’t even have access to it. With support from the community, I will attempt the challenge for 1,000 people (one for every kilometre I run) to have clean drinking water.

Tell us more about the challenge...
The 4 Deserts Race Series is widely recognised as the most prestigious outdoor footrace series in the world. Competitors are challenged to go beyond the limits of their physical and mental endurance, must carry all their own equipment and food and are only provided with drinking water and a place in a tent each night to rest. Barely 60 people a year complete this challenge.

What deserts will you cover?
The first race will be on April 29, 2018 in the hottest desert in the world, in Namibia. This will be followed by another 250km on July 29 in Mongolia, the windiest desert. The third challenge will be in Chile and the fourth and last will be in Antarctica in November, the coldest desert on Earth.

How long have you been training for this?
Clearly a challenge of this magnitude needs significant preparation, training, logistics and planning. I’ve been training for eight to 10 months. The four races will happen within a seven-month window, so further continuous training will be involved. It’s also important to be able to adapt to all the different terrains and temperatures. This means different kinds of training and hydration and food requirements as well.

What are the challenges you anticipate?
Mostly physical. My body will be exposed to huge conditions of stress due to extreme heat and cold. Of course, I expect a few blisters and pain, but the biggest challenge for me will be how to train my mind to drive me to achieve my goals. I’ve participated in ironman and other running endurance races and I’ve observed that it’s always important to identify your motivation. In this case, it will be the commitment to providing clean water to communities that don’t have it.

How are you going to make this happen?
I’ve started a fundraising campaign to get people to donate as much as possible. I’m looking at raising around US$30,000 to help a clean water project. I will be there and will be sending photos, GPS coordinates and testimonies for everyone to be a part of this journey and see the community we all helped together. We’ve raised US$2,450 so far, this means 70 people at least will have access to clean water.
To follow Moubarak’s journey, visit www.facebook.com/hichame.moubarak. To donate, visit www.my.charitywater.org/hichame-moubarak/4-deserts-grand-slam-run-for-clean-water.

By Shereen D’Souza
Time Out Doha,

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