Phil Lester - Marathon des Sables

Simply Business’ Phil Lester prepares to race 156 miles across the Sahara Desert imply Business’ Phil Lester prepares to race 156 miles across the Sahara Desert

An intrepid member of the Simply Business team is taking part in the challenge of a liftetime, and raising money for charity Kids Company in the process.

The digital hourglass on the Marathon des Sables website indicates that Phil Lester has under five weeks until he begins what has been called ‘the toughest footrace on earth’. By the time the countdown has finished, Simply Business Systems Manager and adrenalin junkie Phil will be strapping a pack to his back and beginning a six-day endurance race across the Sahara desert.

“I’m a bit of a sucker for putting myself through the pain and loneliness of endurance events” Phil smiles; “call it a midlife crisis at 37”.

Pain and loneliness are just two of the difficulties that Phil will have to contend with as he slogs across the Sahara. He will have the equivalent of six marathons to run and the heat can rise above 50 degrees centigrade on the Moroccan sands. On his back he’ll be carrying dehydrated food rations, water, a survival pack, a first aid kit, and his sleeping bag. Participants spend nights sleeping in 8-person bivouacs; one of the few things that they don’t need to carry themselves.

Phil has lost seven kilogrammes to accommodate the extra weight that he’ll be carrying, and his training regime currently involves running 40 to 50 miles a week, keeping his fitness up while also doing his best to avoid an injury that could take him out of the race. Running is complemented by important core sessions in the gym, as well as weekly yoga classes, held before work in the Simply Business London office.

“I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking at the time” Phil says, of signing up to the event over 18 months ago, as the April start date now looms frighteningly close.

Phil, however, is a serial marathon runner and completed an Ironman Triathlon last year. It’s clear that his entry to the event was far from a moment of madness, but rather a result of steely resolve and a love of “challenge and once in a lifetime opportunities”. It has also provided an excellent chance for Phil to raise money for Kids Company, the London-based children’s charity that Simply Business is currently supporting.

Phil is part of a core team of employees who are involved in intensive fundraising activities, aiming to support a new Street Level Centre in London.

“It’s going to be a real test, mentally as well as physically” Phil admits of the race, “but my efforts will raise money for Kids Company, supporting their goal of providing a safe and caring environment for over 17,000 children each year”.