NewsRunning the Marathon Des Sables for Street Child United

Running the Marathon Des Sables for Street Child United

22 May, 2024

Jacob Hackman, Investments & Partnerships at ISP, has recently run what’s dubbed as the ‘toughest footrace on earth’ to celebrate turning 30 and to raise money for Street Child United. The Marathon Des Sables is a six-day race totalling 250km (155 miles) across the Sahara Desert, where participants must carry all necessary rations and equipment whilst running in temperatures upwards of 50°C. It’s no wonder the race only had a 53% completion rate in 2021.

Jacob talks us through taking on this challenge and the reasons behind it:

Jacob, congratulations on completing the Marathon Des Sables! Can you share with us what inspired you to take on this incredible challenge for your 30th birthday?

“Over the last few years I have really come to enjoy running, for both the physical and mental benefits. Having done a few marathons, I was ready for a bigger challenge. MDS was a bucket list race for me, a mega challenge that presented a great way to raise money for SCU, which is something that I wanted to do.”

The Marathon Des Sables is known as one of the toughest footraces on earth. What was going through your mind as you prepared to tackle 250km across the Sahara Desert?

“I was excited more than anything. I am always up for an adventure and the MDS felt like just that. There were certain things that made me nervous, but I trained a lot and prepared well, so when I turned up at the race line I was pretty confident.”

You mentioned being inspired by Mauro Prosperi’s survival story from the 1994 race. How did his experience influence your decision to participate in ultramarathons?

“I think anyone would be inspired by his will to survive. I wasn’t looking to get lost in the desert for a week… but I certainly wanted something that would push me to my limits. I think everyone has an idea of who they are and what they are capable of, but rarely do you really get to put it to the test. When you hear a story like Mauro’s, it makes you wonder what you could endure if forced into a situation like that.”

Running in extreme temperatures while carrying all necessary supplies sounds incredibly challenging. What were some of the biggest obstacles you faced during the race?

“Everything about the race is designed to be challenging. It is a true test of endurance in every sense. Heat, sandstorms, pack weight, hunger, dehydration, sleep deprivation, exhaustion. All of these things present an individual set of problems that you will have to deal with. For every single person in the race, at some point, something will go wrong. It is how you deal with it that defines your race. For me, it was how badly injured my feet got relatively early in the race.”

Your journey was not only a personal challenge but also a mission to support Street Child United. Can you tell us more about why you chose this cause and the impact you hope to make?

“I was introduced to SCU through working at ISP. Immediately it struck a chord with me, being an active person who has always been very involved in sports, supporting homeless children through the power of sport is something that resonated. Whilst travelling over the last few years I have met and interacted with several homeless children – their stories left a lasting impression on me. This is what led me to want to do something in that area. In terms of impact, I am not really sure, I just like to know that I am contributing in a positive way.”

Crossing the finish line after 43 hours must have been an incredible moment. Can you walk us through the emotions you felt as you completed the race?

“Incredibly happy that I was only a few hours away from having the longest shower of my life and some non-rehydrated food!”

Despite the difficulties, you managed to raise nearly £5,000 for Street Child United. How does it feel to know that your efforts are making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children?

“Happy and grateful to everyone that supported me, but I also acknowledge that there is always more to be done. Hopefully life will present me with the opportunity to make a bigger impact in the future.”

For those inspired by your journey and wanting to contribute, how can they support your cause and help make a positive impact?

“I think, in supporting any cause, identifying what you can do is always the answer. Everyone is uniquely equipped to help in different ways. Big or small, they key is to find a cause that moves you to action.”

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to others considering taking on similar challenges or supporting charitable causes through their passions?

“Do it – life is too short not to at least try!”

Thank you to everyone who has already donated, Jacob has raised almost £5,000 for SCU – an incredible accomplishment. Congratulations to Jacob on successfully completing this incredible challenge, you have inspired us all to push ourselves further.

A donation of £50 is enough to support one child on their journey to receiving official identification, allowing them access to healthcare, education and ultimately a safer life. If you’d like to donate to Jacob’s gruelling challenge please do so via this link:

Street Child United uses the power of sport to provide a global platform for street children, so they can demand the protection, support, and opportunities every child needs. It’s estimated that there are 150 million children living and working on the streets.


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