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Two engineers who were forced to cancel a fundraising race in the Amazon jungle three times have finally conquered the gruelling challenge at the fourth attempt.
Dave Benison and Carl Bamford, from Chesterfield, completed Jungle Ultra – a 230km (140-mile) five-day marathon in the Peruvian rainforest – to raise funds for Ashgate Hospice.
It comes after they were forced to cancel their attempt last year when the airline lost their luggage upon their arrival, while the two years prior their plans were scuppered by the pandemic.
Dave, 48, said they are “extremely proud” to have raised more than £4,750 towards end of life care across North Derbyshire.
The duo chose to support the charity in memory of Carl’s mum, Carol Bamford, and other family friends who have received care at the end of their lives.
“We had no hiccups this time,” Dave said. “Other than the fact it was probably the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do, but that was to be expected.
“We ran various distances each day – varying between 20 and 55 miles – and we were running for anywhere between four and 14 hours.
“When you’re deep in the jungle and trying to find your way through it’s like nothing else. A 10km, which would usually take a decent runner about 45 minutes, was taking us more than five times that!”
Dave and his running partner, Carl, 44, finished 9th and 13th respectively out of 30 competitors – some of whom travelled from the likes of Denmark, Sweden, Hungary and beyond to take part.
They flew out to South America on 4 June and began the challenge the following day.
The duo, neither of whom belong to a running club, said they wanted to take on the challenge to gain fitness, for the mental health benefit and to fundraise for the hospice.
Dave added: “Although it’s probably the toughest thing I’ve ever done, it’s the most amazing place I’ve ever been.
“Some nights the temperature was close to freezing and then one day it was 35 degrees and 90% humidity – it was certainly hard work!
“The jungle is everything and more than what you see on the TV. The floor is alive with creatures – all wanting to bite you and annoy you – and the noise at night is just incredible.
“We don’t class as ourselves as runners – we try out these challenges more to keep fit whilst raising some funds for a vital local charity like Ashgate.”
They chose to support the hospice as it was “close to both our hearts”, but particularly so for Carl, whose mum Carol was treated with “dignity” and “kindness” before her death in October 2010, aged 60.
Carl added: “My mum Carol came to the hospice quite soon after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
“We were told there was nothing further that could be done for her by the hospital but didn’t expect such a rapid decline.
“I was in the Royal Navy at the time and on the day before she died I was still at sea. Fortunately, the Navy were able to land me ashore and I drove to Ashgate just a few hours before she passed.
“It was the last place I saw and held her so I’m really grateful and feel a connection to the hospice.
“She was only in Ashgate for a few days, but they treated her with dignity and kindness which meant a lot to us.”
Click here to support Dave and Carl’s Ultra challenge and help raise vital funds for Ashgate Hospice.
To find out more about how you can fundraise for Ashgate Hospice, click here.