IN May 2012, personal trainer Roger Davies set himself one year to complete a million vertical steps for charity - the equivalent of Mount Everest up and down 24 times.
That year has been now cut to 10 months with news that he has been accepted on to the Marathon des Sables, starting in Morocco in early April.
The Braddan man has been chipping away at his challenge, on any available flight of stairs, to raise money for Manx Cancer Help. He may have already topped the 650,000 mark, but that still leaves a challenge of climbling around 4,300 steps every day to hit his end of March target.
‘That’s 24 times up and down the Gas Works steps, every day. If you miss a day, it mounts up!’ said Mr Davies.
‘The first third was easy. The middle third I actually began to feel a bit desolate. I had two holidays, and found out about the Marathon des Sables. I went from being quite far ahead to suddenly having a mountain to climb.’
The Marathon des Sables, which Roger speculatively applied for two years ago, has been described as the toughest foot race in the world; six marathons in seven days across the Sahara desert.
Roger, who has taken to running with sand in his shoes to toughen his feet, sees the bright side.
‘I’m glad I have a big finish ahead with the steps challenge, it’s good training to get to Morocco in good shape,’ he said.
To mark the final push to one million, and tie in with Manx Cancer Help’s 30th anniversary, the charity team are hoping to find 30 companies to come forward to each host Roger and get their staff involved in a fund raising staircase challenge.
It is something that has been tried and tested with an all-day event with staff at Standard Bank in Douglas.
‘It was amazing. I got 20,000 steps done, and the staff had a good laugh. It raised £3,000 and was so easy to organise,’ said Roger.
It can get lonely putting in the hours outside on his own through the winter, so the lively fundraising initiatives are a welcome break. The Fire and Rescue Service’s record breaking Ladder 24 crew have joined him for a session, and he ran an event at Scoill Vallajeelt, where his son is a pupil and he split the money raised with the school.
He’s also been joined by a host of well known sports people, including a chat with Dame Kelly Holmes.
‘A lot of people don’t realise how hard the challenge is. Even super fit people who’ve joined in say how tough they found it,’ said Roger, adding the hardest part has been fitting the challenge around his work and family life.
‘Talking to Kelly was good, she understood what it took, what my heart rate was hitting,’
To find out more about hosting a steps challenge, call Ali Martin at Manx Cancer Help on 679544.