The heights some Suffolk people will go to...

PUBLISHED: 10:20 22 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:19 20 February 2013

Suffolk hotelier and fundraiser extraordinaire Craig Jarvis setting out on the Marathon des Sables, one of the world’s toughest endurance races.

Suffolk hotelier and fundraiser extraordinaire Craig Jarvis setting out on the Marathon des Sables, one of the world’s toughest endurance races.

Today's charity fundraisers are a tough breed, climbing mountains, crossing deserts and pushing themselves to the limits of endurance to raise money for their chosen cause. Dave Gooderham spoke to three Suffolk fundraising heroes

Todays charity fundraisers are a tough breed, climbing mountains, crossing deserts and pushing themselves to the limits of endurance to raise money for their chosen cause. As we enter this festive time of giving, and thinking of others, Dave Gooderham spoke to three Suffolk fundraising heroes


JUST eight short months ago, Colin de la Rue was an experienced hill-walker but that was all. Now, as you are reading this, the shipping and insurance lawyer has climbed eight of the most dangerous and demanding mountains the world has to offer. Thats right, eight.
The amazing series of challenges has seen him tackle the worst weather conditions natural earth has to offer where simple survival was the only priority.
Speaking from his Melton home just days after completing the last of his Eight Up challenges, Colin admitted the whole experience had been very humbling.
He said: I was quite an experienced hill walker but I always wanted to progress to mountain climbing.
I wanted to climb mountains that progressively got harder and higher and also prove that age should be no barrier to anyone.
Colin certainly did that after celebrating his 57th birthday while trekking in Nepal just a month before his final and most dangerous challenge, Mera Peak.
Renowned for one of the best mountain views in the world, Colin, a keen photographer, hoped the three-week trek would offer him a stirring panorama of Everest and neighbouring giants.
What he got was an epic mountaineering experience that could have cost him his life.
He explained: The weather was unusually poor for the post-monsoon season. We pressed on to Base Camp and got to just below 19,000ft ready for the final push for the summit.
Then, in late afternoon, just as we were pitching camp, the storm blew up. At this altitude just putting one foot in front of the other was hard enough wading through snow two to three feet deep was going to be impossible, quite apart from the hazards of route-finding and avalanche.
Survival was now the priority we heard later that these were the worst conditions at High Camp which any of the sherpas had ever experienced. Then, as the sun rose, miraculously the storm died away.
It was things like this that I didnt exactly encourage my family to think about. But my wife has been incredibly supportive. When I first told her what I wanted, she simply said you have got to do what you have got to do.
This time last year, by his own admission, he was three stones heavier, could run for barely a minute and had little experience of technical climbing.
He has now scaled eight mountains including Mont Blanc, Ben Nevis and Mount Kilimanjaro and raised money for a total of ten charities including the Suffolk Foundation, where he has been supported by his wife, Cindy, and his children, Sam, Rose and May.
It all became possible after Colin, a partner at Ince & Co in London, took a sabbatical between August and November this year, as well as completing some of the challenges during holidays and even a business trip.
Reflecting on the reasons for his epic eight months, Colin said: Theres more to be gained than just a sense of achievement. For some people the real prize of the mountains is a sense of something else, detachment the climbers perspective of the place from which hes come.
Sometimes a fresh perspective renews a sense of priorities release from pre-occupations that didnt really matter, and fresh awareness of things that can pass us by in the confusion of the busy lives we lead.
Good things weve taken for granted, but could appreciate better, or do more to conserve. Bad things to which were resigned, or have turned a blind eye, and could do more to change.
Colin will be discussing the Eight-up challenges at the Royal Geographical Society during an evening talk on March 3, 2011 with tickets in aid of the charities.
More details on the challenges can be found at


Tom Kingsnorth always thought the most challenging aspect of running 100 consecutive miles in less than a day would be when he faced the pitch black. In fact, he couldnt have been more wrong, as he explained after successfully completing the Ultra Race 100 in Devon.
In the end, it was the support of his dad John and other family members which helped him compete the endurance race.
He explained: I had built up an idea that running through the night would be the biggest challenge, I had probably not thought enough about the other potential problems.
The worst time for me did actually come at about 3am because thats when it dawned on me that I still had 12 hours of running to go during the day.

I asked my dad what would be a respectable place to pull out as I didnt think I could do it

This realisation, and the sheer tiredness which saw me start to fall asleep as I was running, hit me hard.
I had told all of my family before the race that I wouldnt enter something like this unless I was pretty sure I could do it. But that confidence, that certainty, actually ebbed away during that early morning period.
Tom had always been a keen runner which peaked when he was chosen for the England Under-17s squad.
He even opted to study politics at Loughbourgh University on the strength of its athletics training.
But he was forced to take two years out after suffering from chronic fatigue an experience which offered him valuable insight into a life without running.
However, the bug duly returned after he graduated, as he explained: I lived in London for three years and did some street racing but I also had a streak of adventure in me which saw me do the tough guy events in both the summer and the winter.
It got to a stage when I realised I wanted to do a bigger event, something away from road racing and personal bests.
I knew I was at the age when I had to do it now, my friends were starting to have babies and I knew I wasnt a million miles away from that life myself."
So the 31-year-old began to search for a challenge that would satisfy his urge. He knew he didnt want to tackle something akin to comedian Eddie Izzards back-to-back marathons, in his own words he wanted the biggest single non-stop race you could do.
The Ultra 100 satisfied that tag and Toms training took him up to running 35 miles at a time from his home in Bury St Edmunds to his parents property in Haughley.
But it meant he was ready to put his body on the line during the event which, fittingly, including running through the villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter.
Tom, who is now training for the London Marathon in April, admitted: The hardest thing for my wife was actually the day after when I had all sorts of problems after letting myself shut down.
He chose to raise money for St Nicholas Hospice Care, in Bury, and also Ipswich-based St Elizabeth Hospice where his mum, Jane, is the chaplain.


You would have thought choosing to take part in the self-billed toughest footrace on earth would be a crazy enough way to celebrate turning 50.
But for Craig Jarvis, it wasnt quite enough. The hotelier wanted to ensure he was in tip-top condition for the Marathon des Sables and he knew just how to do it.
Not complete with just one charity challenge, Craig undertook an incredible five gruelling events to ensure he was physically and mentally ready for the equivalent of five-and-a-half marathons over six daysacross the Sahara Desert.
In one amazing year, Craig completed the Three Peaks Challenge and ran the London 10k just a day later.
He followed this up with losing two-and-a-half-stone so he could take part in the famous Newmarket Town Plate horse race before motorcycling across Cambodia.
And all this was just preparation for the incredible Marathon des Sables.
Any one of those events would have been more than enough for most people, but Craig clearly wanted to push himself to the limits while raising the maximum possible for charity.
And what a result after the five challenges helped raise 36,000 for his own Ravenwood Childrens Trust charity, which chose St Nicholas Hospice Care as this years main beneficiary.
Craig said: It all started when I got a place in the Marathon des Sables. I first saw the marathon on a television documentary and it had some mystical kudos about it which just appealed to me. I knew I had to really get myself fit and I thought the best way to do this would be to take part in some other challenges as preparation.
Craig admits the biggest obstacle was actually a mental one more than anything physical, explaining: All the events made me realise how my body would react. There were training exercises in various disciplines to get me ready for the Marathon des Sables.
The Three Peaks was beneficial in terms of preparing me for the mountainous terrain in the desert, while Cambodia got me used to intense heat and humanity. It taught my body to cope with it.
Most importantly, they all helped with my mindset as so much of the marathon is in the mind, and how you handle such a challenge mentally, rather than the body.
Craig, the owner of Ravenwood Hall in Rougham and the Black Lion in Long Melford, had to juggle running two successful businesses with training for each challenge.
He said: The most important thing was that I had good staff to look after the running of the business, which enabled me to train as much as I needed to do. The balance between work and training was very hard and there was a lot of catching up to do when it was all over.
But he wont be stopping too long as Craig has already signed up to take part in the Jungle Marathon next year with the East Anglian Childrens Hospice being the main beneficiary.
The latest challenge will see Craig tackle multi-disciplinary skills, from rock climbing to swamp crossing just dont mention this to the family.
Craig admitted: I didnt really talk to my family too much about what it actually entailed as I didnt want to worry them. My children, Jessie and Molly, are intrigued by it all and very supportive, although they miss me while I am away.

Latest from the EADT Suffolk Magazine