Johnny Donnelly, the former drummer with The Saw Doctors, is to go on the run in the Sarah Desert. No, he’s not escaping to join the French Foreign Legion, instead he’s undertaking a running marathon for charity.
Donnelly swapped his drumsticks for running shoes back in February 2008 when he set himself the challenge of running more than 1,500 miles in four years to raise money for Irish charity Seachange, and his upcoming marathon in the Sahara is the next instalment in that challenge.
Today, Johnny will fly to the Sahara Desert to prepare for the Marathon des Sables; a gruelling 253km marathon which takes place over six days, where competitors have to carry everything they need for the duration of the race in a rucksack.
Food, clothes, sleeping bag, and all other essential items are carried on the back of the competitor and with mid-day temperatures of up to 120 F and 15 per cent to 20 per cent of the distance being in sand dunes, race participants face an extreme physical challenge.
The mental stamina of competitors decides whether they will go the distance or not and in Johnny’s case, mind over matter has become the mantra of his challenge so far. With more than €300,000 already raised for Seachange projects, including recent restorative efforts in Haiti, Johnny is determined to drive further awareness and support for the foundation’s fundraising efforts through his Run Johnny Run campaign.
Seachange is an Irish based, non-profit organisation. Its mission is to raise funds and awareness for microcredit projects targeting the world’s poorest and “empowering them to lift themselves, with dignity, out of extreme poverty”.
As well as the Marathon des Sables, Johnny will also be taking part in the Dublin Marathon in October. He is again calling on runners, joggers, or walkers to take to the streets of Dublin and run to raise money for Seachange.