Preparing to cross the desert

Duty free’s masochistic fringe continues to make headlines. Hot on the heels of multiple marathon man Sean Staunton chugs The Edrington Group Area Director – Japan, Hong Kong, Asia Pacific Duty Free Ryan Hill, the latest travel retail executive to sacrifice his body for a very worthwhile cause.

Ryan in training in Hong Kong

Ryan is participating in the 250km Sahara Race in Egypt this October, running in support of the Sunrise Children’s Association. Yes, you read it correctly: the race covers 250km, but even Ryan isn’t mad enough to do it in one go – he’ll be able to take an occasional break to eat, drink, sleep, cry and plaster his feet back together.

Run between October 2 and 8, the Sahara Race consists of four 40km stages, one 80km stage and a final leg covering a mere 10km, ending at the Great Pyramids of Giza. Although water and tented accommodation are provided, runners are required to carry their own sustenance with them as they go. We suggest Ryan packs a couple of bottles of The Macallan, which might not help his navigational skills but would dull the pain.

Ryan’s chosen charity, the Sunrise Children’s Association Inc (SCAI), is a non-government organisation based in Australia, whose aim is to alleviate poverty among underprivileged children and young people in Nepal and to support the communities in which they live. The money Ryan raises will assist SCAI in its vision to build an eco-friendly, permanent home for the current and future children of Sunrise Orphanage, called Sunrise Children’s Village. Donations to SCAI’s Community Development Appeal have so far have reached 50% of the $1 million target.

Ryan tells us he first heard of the charity through his best man Rob Paton, of Macadamias fame, and the charity’s founder Emma Taylor, who attended Ryan and Louise’s wedding in Koh Samui. Emma and Sunrise look after about 80 children in total, but are frequently obliged to move premises, causing distress to the children and hampering the good work of the charity. A permanent home will transform the lives of the Sunrise children and give them a start in life that they could not have otherwise hoped for.

More details on the project and on how to donate can be found here. If you would like to donate, please be sure to type ‘Ryan Hill’ under ‘Special Messages’ so that Ryan can identify your donation. Ryan’s email address should be entered under ‘Email notification’.

Ryan’s daily training regime is gruelling: up at 4.30am at home in Hong Kong followed by a 2-hour trail run between 10km and 20km depending on the terrain. All this in heat of 30°C or more, 100% humidity, and with an 8-10kg backpack in tow. This weekend he’ll ramp up the distance to 30-35km, before hitting 40km by the end of August. Along with the inevitable blisters, he’s already lost 5 toenails, and quite possibly his marbles.

Ryan will be at the Cannes show – no boozing however – and will be running around the Ile Margarite on Sunday September 18. Industry friends are welcome to join him.

Best of luck Ryan, and don’t trust the mirages (if La Chunga suddenly shimmers into view over the sand dunes, run straight past, just like you do in Cannes).

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