Sharmila makes strides with second Ultra Challenge

Sharmila makes strides with second Ultra Challenge

Supporter Sharmila is taking on not one but three Ultra Challenges for Martlets this year to fundraise in support of our new hospice building. Here she updates us on her second challenge, the Thames Path 100 km, and looks ahead to the Sahara Trek in October. 

“I’ve decided to take on three Ultra challenges for Martlets which are endurance walking events. Martlets are building new hospice facilities that will ensure they can provide exceptional hospice care for decades to come. The team needs support from the local community to make this major building project happen and I have strong connection with Martlets, so I thought I’d do my bit to help. 

It was a challenge just to get to the start line of the Thames Path Challenge (which is 100 km from Putney Bridge in London past Hampton Court to Runnymede, then all the way up to Henley in Oxfordshire). Back in July, I was on a yoga holiday and as I was doing a forward bend my back just went out completely. It was either a prolapsed disk, or severe muscle spasm, but I couldn’t move. So my training programme for the Thames Path Challenge and all my fundraising went out the window. 

However, thanks to acupuncture treatment, I did get to the start line! It was the hottest day of the year though and the 33-degree heat was brutal. Luckily for me, before I put my back out, I had been training for the Sahara Trek next month. I had these special wet towels that keep you nice and cool and my Sahara hat on and plenty of water. So that was actually quite good practice for my third challenge in October! 

Sharmila after the Thames Path challenge next is the Sahara Challenge

Out of the 900 people that started about 300 dropped out along the way, mainly due to the heat. My injury started to twinge at 78 km at 3am in the morning but somehow I made it to the finish! 

It was quite scary doing it on my own because you have to walk through the night on the river path. But I met a lovely lady called Loretta and we became friends for the 24 hours. We walked together at a similar speed. You can walk in a group but you never know what speed other people will walk at. The Thames Path Ultra Challenge is known as ‘the foot shredder’ because people’s toenails are often dropping off by the end! It might seem as though walking on the flat is quite easy. However, you are using the same muscles over and over again which can be really hard. 

I think if it had been a week earlier I wouldn’t have been able to do it. Thankfully my back held out. It was difficult walking in the dark. I was tripping over stones and tree roots, but the sunset and sunrise were so beautiful. Walking under the stars was amazing. My goal was to finish in under 24 hours which I managed. Considering it was so hot and I was injured, I was really chuffed. My family were there to give me a massive welcome at the finish line and although I was exhausted and had lots of blisters I was ok. 

Sharmila's dogs at the finish line for Team Martlets

In October, I go to Marrakech and begin my Saharan Challenge. I’ll be making an uncomfortable eight-hour journey in a van out to the desert. Then we’ll do two days of walking; the first is a marathon, then the following day a 50km trek. 

After the recent earthquake in Morocco we weren’t sure if the trip would go ahead. The situation was declared a national disaster. Many people lost their lives and much of Marrakech has been damaged. It’s been devastating for local people there and we wondered if those operating the trek might be redeployed to the disaster relief operation. However, it seems that where we are going is quite a way east of the earthquake’s epicentre. We are able to go ahead. 

In the Sahara, the heat will be the main challenge, but we’ll be accompanied by guides so there will be water and food brought along. I’ve taken part in Ultra Challenges before with friends, but this is the first time I’ll be going solo. I’m sure I’ll meet people along the way though and get chatting. I’m looking forward to it as this is the challenge that people have sponsored me for most. 

I had never really thought of doing anything for charity, but I saw how hard the NHS and hospice staff were working during the COVID pandemic and it was inspirational. I wanted to support a local charity and Martlets was the obvious choice. 

The new Martlets Hospice is almost complete and it’s going to be amazing. There will be a new inpatient unit, a sensory garden, better gym and rehab facilities and a larger café. It will be a community hub. What I think is wonderful is that Martlets asked families what it was that they would most like to see in the new building. They asked for more, bigger ‘cuddle beds’, more family space, and ensuite rooms and that is what’s being provided.

Clinically it will be fantastic and a really dignified environment with private space and social areas according to people’s needs. I’m really excited by the prospect. It’s an absolute privilege to raise some money and encourage everyone out there to support Martlets too. The hospice is such an important part of Sussex life and it’s so important to  make more people aware of the care Martlets provides. 

I would encourage anyone reading this to go to the website look at the plans and see what they’re doing because it will just be fantastic. And it’s being done with such care and attention. Look at the videos that are on there and all that Martlets does and I defy you to not come away and put your hand in your pocket! Thank you so much for your support.” 

Could you support Martlets? 

To support Sharmila, please visit her JustGiving page. 

If you’re interested in taking part in a fundraising challenge of your own for Martlets, visit Fundraise for Us on the Martlets website. If you have any questions about fundraising for us, please call 01273 747455 or email us at 

You can also join our supporters Facebook group to see what other people are doing and to chat to the team.


Published 27/09/2023