On the 3rd of August 2015, in the searing summer heat, a couple are going to set off from Mandraki harbour and walk to Prasonisi at the far end of the island.
It sounds like madness, temperatures in early August often reach 40C or higher. I had to find out more about the people wanting to do such an extreme challenge.
Ben Moorhouse and Gaynor Thompson have strong links with the island and have been coming to visit for many years.
Ben aged 32 first came to Rhodes in 2002 I asked him to tell me more about his link with Rhodes:
I have been coming to Rhodes since 2002 when I was 19. I started off working for club 18-30 based in Faliraki and then worked for Olympic holidays in Afandou as holiday rep.
I came back to the UK for the winter and started working for Thomas Cook in the Bradford head office and decided to stay in the UK.
But I have never managed to settle fully back in the as my love for Rhodes, Greece and it’s people has taken over my life.
I came back to Rhodes in 2012 for a 4 month extended break as I needed to be back where I’m most happy. Life is just not the same in the UK and to be honest I will never be truly happy while living here.
Myself and Gaynor will return one day permanently!
Gaynor 34, came to the island in 2009 on her first overseas holiday. As many do she fell in love with the place. They have been coming back usually twice a year since then.
Are You Fit For The Challenge?
Gaynor has gone through her own fitness journey to improve her health before taking on this challenge:
I decided I wanted to change myself and my life in November 2013.
I have a severe thyroid problem which did not help my weight but this was no excuse. I saw some photos of me at a Christmas party and was disgusted with what I saw.
In January 2014 I joined a gym and with the help of Ben haven’t looked backs since. We returned to Rhodes on holiday in October and that’s when I got the idea of the challenge.
Since then Gaynor has gone on to lose over 60kg. She also been eating healthily and since launching the challenge in January they have both stopped alcohol, fizzy drinks and sweet foods.
Currently they are working out at 4am 6 days a week. But what about coping with the temperatures in August? Ben said:
We have had one day of nice weather for a training walk here in Yorkshire when we were both off on the same day at the weekend.
Hopefully they are getting some time off now with the mini heatwave in the UK this week.
What about the charity side of the challenge?
This challenge is being done to raise money for the Steve Prescott foundation, a cause they feel very passionately about. Steve Prescott was a British rugby league player who after contracting a rare form of cancer went on to complete extreme challenges to raise money.
The foundation has continued after his death and the money goes to charities close to Steve Prescott:
- Try assist (previously the Rugby League Benevolent fund), supporting players with serious injuries
- The Christie cancer care hospital in Manchester
- The Oxford Transplant Foundation.
This is Steve Prescott’s story:
The couple are paying for the trip themselves of course, but are hoping to raise £2000.
Talking to them they are very disappointed with the lack of support they’ve received in the UK so far raising just 600. They had much higher expectations of the Rugby fans and public in general.
It’s the lack of support from some members of their own families, who doubt their ability to do the challenge that’s hurt them most.
Gaynor hopes that people will support more as the challenge dates gets closer.
You can find their Just Giving page here.
Stage 1 – In the 25.5 kilometres first leg of the challenge they will go from Mandraki harbour to Afandou golf course through Falaraki.
Stage 2 – is just over 30.5 kilometres from Afandou to Lindos and then through the narrow steep streets to the acropolis.
Stage 3 – 51.5 kilometres, the longest stretch will take them from Lindos down to Prasonisi
What support will there be in Rhodes?
Ben and Gaynor are very aware of the current financial situation in Greece and have not asked for donations from the local people. However, the Greeks are known for their hospitality:
- Ben’s friend George from Bubbles bar Falaraki has been amazing and will be helping them in Rhodes.
- On Afandou beach the Aggelos Paralia kantina have also supported them by putting posters up.
- The Lindos Hotels group have sponsored them including an overnight stay at the end of the second leg of their journey in the Lindos Imperial.
- The Sunburnt Arms in Lindos have been promoting the challenge and collecting money.
- Local expat associations have come forward to offer support with water on route.
- Lastly, a family from Bradford are on holiday in Faliraki while we are doing the challenge they will walk with them with r9 year old son -1 mile to meet them and 1 mile with them to Falaraki centre. They have got some sponsors in for Rhys the son as a little mini challenge for him,and all money they get has been put onto their justgiving page to try and help us.
All they ask is that people support and encourage them along the way. And have some water handy just in case.
Why don’t you raise the money for a local Greek charity?
By doing the challenge for the foundation close to our hearts in Rhodes the island we love and it’s people, we are also promoting Rhodes t in the UK.
By showing our love for the island on our pages we already know of four families who have booked holidays to Rhodes for this summer.
We are in the media in the UK and we telling everybody how beautiful rhodes and how nice the local people are.
By coming to Rhodes when the situation is in the media and on the news,we are doing our bit to tell people still go to Greece you will still have a fantastic time.
In Ben’s words:
So we are coming to Rhodes in prime condition but probably with no heat training. Although we have done walks before in Rhodes of 10 miles so we know what to expect.
We are relishing the challenge!
You can follow the challenge on Facebook.
There is no doubt that walking around this island in August is an extreme challenge. Most of us limit our walking at that time of the year until after the sun sets. These two certainly seem prepared and aware of the challenge ahead.
I admire people who try to challenge themselves in life and will meet up and support them along the route with lots of water.