A DETERMINED father is gearing up to tackle one of the world’s toughest footraces in memory of his late son.
Dave Waterman will embark on the scorching-hot Marathon des Sables in southern Morocco on Sunday.
The feat will see the 40-year-old from Gosport run more than 150 miles through the Sahara desert over five days – battling temperatures exceeding 30C.
And while the prospect of the trial would daunt many, Mr Waterman says he is feeling ‘calm and collected’ – as he prepares to take it on in the name of Oakley, the son he lost to a rare form of cancer in 2005, aged six.
He said: ‘This is something that’s been in the pipeline for a couple of years.
‘As time has gone on I’ve taken on lots of different runs and I’m always looking to push myself to new levels.
‘This is massive – but it’s the next step and I’m excited to get going.’
The challenge is Mr Waterman’s latest in a long list of physical fundraisers for the Oakley Waterman Caravan Foundation Trust.
He created the initiative 12 years ago to provide holidays for sick children and their families, inspired by a precious break with Oakley at Church Farm in Pagham.
To prepare, Mr Waterman – a former Pompey player – has spent the past eight months running between 60 to 80 miles per week.
And yesterday, he completed a fifth and final two-hour climate-training session at the University of Chichester – which has seen him take to a treadmill in heat of up to 45C.
‘Andy West and the team at the university heard our charity’s story and were kind enough to let me use their facilities for free,’ Mr Waterman said.
‘I’ve done the running, but if I couldn’t hack the temperature I would have been worried. I’ve learned I need to drink more water, but besides that it’s gone well and I’m feeling confident.’
Now, with just days to go before he sets off, it’s the people closest to him spurring him on for the race.
He said: ‘It was Oakley who started this amazing journey and it’ll be him on my shoulders pushing me on.
‘My friend, Steve Roberts, is going through a tough time in hospital too – so he’ll be in my thoughts along the way.’
To donate, visit justgiving.com/oakleywatermancaravanfoundation.