16 Sep

In The Hoof Prints Of Ghengis Khan…

Shona ThomsonRegular contributor, Shona Thomson, is preparing for an expedition to Mongolia in January 2016 to help raise funds for Riding for the Disabled (RDA) West and Central Scotland and the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH). The adventure will see Shona run the inaugural Ghengis Khan Ice Marathon along the River Tuul in minus 40 degrees Celsius with a handful of other runners including Doctor Andrew Murray. We caught up with Shona to find out a little bit more about the expedition.

How did the expedition come about?
It was the hottest day of 2015 and I got a text message from David Scott, Consul for Mongolia in Scotland and Director of expedition organisers, Sandbaggers. The message read something along the lines of: “I'm in London with Dr Andrew Murray and we want to convince you to do something!” David was effectively the logistics behind the Namib550, which saw Andrew and his running partner, Donnie Nicholson, run 550k across the Namib dessert in 50 degrees Celsius. Intrigued, and knowing this probably meant some equally crazy feat, I agreed to meet the boys in the pub, the place where all good adventures begin!
What was their proposal?
"A wee jog in Mongolia" were the words used if I recall correctly. After a bit more probing, the full extent of the expedition was revealed. David was organising the inaugural Ghengis Khan Ice Marathon, a run of 26.2 miles, in minus 40 degrees along the frozen river Tuul in Mongolia. There was no doubt it sounded incredible, running in the rugged wilderness, with just a handful of other runners and huskies providing support.
Who else is on the team?
It's a great honour to run with so many great athletes from all corners of the globe. Dr Andrew Murray and Doug Wilson who have also done both the North Pole and Antarctic Ice marathons are on the team, as are Lucja Leonard from Australia and Lenka Istvanova from Slovakia, who are accomplished trail runners.
Did you say yes immediately?
No! I was incredibly excited about the trip and thrilled to have been invited but I needed to think it through completely. The trip was planned for late January 2016 and I was already planning to run Tokyo marathon in February 2016 with Sports Tours International. However, eventually I came to the conclusion that I usually do; life is about experiences so why not give this challenge a shot?
What are you hoping to gain from the adventure?
I've got several objectives for the trip. Primarily, I want to raise a lot of funding for Riding for the Disabled (RDA) and Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH). I'm also looking forward to experiencing a new culture and visiting a country I might never have otherwise got to see. It'll be wonderful to see the beautiful landscapes on the marathon course. With Tokyo marathon just a few weeks later, I'll be treating this a training run, not  a race, so I’ll be able to take in the scenery!
As David Scott said,’it's a real privilege to be involved in furthering relations between Mongolia and Scotland.  This is the latest in a series of sporting and cultural events’.
Tell me a little about the chosen charities?
The two chosen charities are Riding for the Disabled (RDA) and Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH). It is amazing  to hear the happiness and sense of achievement that riding brings  to so many adults and children with disabilities. SAMH is a fabulous charity too, which really emphasises the importance of physical activity in managing mental health issues.  
We are also doing some in country work, providing kit and medical equipment. We will be doing a number of fundraising events so please keep an eye out for forthcoming details
What support have you had for the trip?
Team have had a lot of support. Doctor Andrew Murray has had huge support from Edinburgh University Sport and Exercise and Merrell UK who have provided vital medical supplies and athletic equipment for Mongolia. I'm sponsored by Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports, who have been truly fantastic with their support. They are also official kit providers. You can see the kit I’ll be wearing here
Where and when is the expedition?
The inaugural Ghengis Khan Ice Marathon is scheduled for Tuesday 26 January 2016 and will run along the frozen river Tuul, finishing at the Ghengis Khan Horse Statue.
How can we help you?
Trips and fundraising efforts such as this are not cheap. We are looking to raise as much money as possible for RDA and SAMH so any sponsorship or support would be most gratefully received. You can sponsor the expedition at the Virgin Money Giving page. If you would like to sponsor Shona or the expedition, please get in touch with her at ST@SlowTwitch.co.uk or contact David Scott at David@sand-baggers.com. You can find out more about the inaugural Ghengis Khan Ice Marathon here.