Swashbuckling brothers Tony and Ian Wimpenny did something extraordinary at the weekend.
They entered the KiliMarathon, running to the top of East Africa's highest mountain and then down again. Not only did they run the race. They WON the race!
On the way, The ME Association also came out a winner.
Flying back to the UK this evening, 43-year-old gas supply industry entrepreneur Tony – who ran to raise money for us – sent this dispatch from their stop-over at Doha, the capital of Qatar:
“I’m delighted to say that not only did my brother Ian and I make it to the summit, but we won the marathon event! The two of us finished in 1st with a time of 12h 58mins (official time not yet released).
“Friday 15th September started with a wake up call at 3am and a quick coffee and breakfast (and pack up of our belongings to be transported to the end of the race) before a 4am race start.
“The journey entailed several kilometres of negotiating a rocky, barely-visible-at times trail by head torch to reach “Kibo” camp, which is at the foot of the steep ascent to the summit. We got to Kibo just after 6am which coincided with a stunning sunrise behind us, and gathered our nerve, energy and warm gear to take on the brutal and breathtaking (literally!) ascent to Gilman’s point and then around the rim of the volcanic crater to “Uhuru”, the summit.
“We had to negotiate several kilometres of a rocky, barely-visible-at times trail by head torch to reach “Kibo” camp, which is at the foot of the steep ascent to the summit. We got to Kibo just after 6am which coincided with a stunning sunrise behind us, and gathered our nerve, energy and warm gear to take on the brutal and breathtaking (literally!) ascent to Gilman’s point and then around the rim of the volcanic crater to “Uhuru”, the summit.”
Superfit brothers Tony (left) and Ian take time out for a breather while on their way up Kilimanjaro.
Tony, who also cycled with girlfriend Laura from Land's End to John O'Groats for us last autumn, added:
“It was a highlight for the two of us, and an amazing moment for us to share together, but the challenge wasn't over! We then had a dicey decent over loose rocks and gravel back to Kibo before embarking on a further half marathon of distance over a range of terrain, passing through alpine desert, moorlands and tropical forest to the finish line at “Mandara” camp at 5pm exactly.
“We were guided along the route by a Maasai named “Jackson”, who spoke no English but carried a huge pack, ran with us at any pace we chose and always had a huge smile on his face for doing what he loved. He earned our eternal respect and gratitude for his part in our journey.
“We were greeted at the end by other local guides from Erik's Adventures, who showed us to our tent and whipped up a bowl of hot water so we could wash off the sweat and grime of the long and arduous day.
“After we freshened up, contacted our loved ones to let them know we’d survived and recuperated a bit, we waited at the finish line to cheer on the other finishing contenders that had gone through their own physical and mental challenges to reach the finish – some finishing with head torches in total darkness
“The next day, we were serenaded with a traditional song and dance by the guides and porters and were presented with certificates to show we’d conquered Africa’s highest point, to the sound of a local chant in Swahili, led by chief guide “Yesse”.
“It was a proud achievement for all and an adventure we’ll never forget!”
Tony became involved with the ME Association because a close friend of Laura's from university days has been severely ill with M.E. for the past two or three years. Laura is now Tony's fiancée: he proposed to her just before flying out to East Africa and she accepted. The couple are pictured at journey's end in John O'Groats last autumn.
Tony said: “It’s been really inspiring to put M.E. on people’s radar, which was one of the key goals. I hope it brings some solace to those suffering, that awareness and funds are being raised to try and help their struggle.”