Charity walk to Muscat

Dubai resident Andrew Roughton plans to spend a week walking to Muscat in aid of Cancer Research. Laura Chubb chats to the latest in a long line of charity challengers

Interview, Area Guides

Andrew Roughton has given himself seven days to walk from Dubai to Muscat, starting on October 1. That’s about 252 miles in total, or between 30 and 40 miles of walking a day. Funnily enough, Roughton isn’t undertaking this sojourn just for fun – it’s to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Time Out asks him why he thinks this is a good idea.

People set themselves all sorts of crazy tasks these days in the name of charity – running 52 marathons in 52 weeks, for example. Why are you doing this?
I thought the bigger the gesture, the more likely I was to be sponsored. It also satisfies my sense of adventure. It’s an achievable distance.

An achievable distance? You must be quite a walker.
[Laughs] Well, I’m more into running than walking. I did the Dubai marathon last year – that’s the longest distance I’ve ever run.

That’s 26 miles – just 10 per cent of what you’re attempting here.
I know. It’s going to be challenging, but I think I should be ready by October. It’s all about having a positive outlook – so at the halfway point, rather than thinking, ‘Oh no, I’ve got 20 miles to go’, you think, ‘Wow, I’ve achieved 20 miles.’

Why October? It’s still going to be hot, isn’t it?
The temperature will still be in the 30s, I think. Preferably I’d have done it in November or December, but I’m doing a part-time masters degree that starts a week after I get back from the walk, so I didn’t have the option.

Yikes. So how are you training for the event?
I’m running Dubai marathon again next year, so I’ll be doing a lot of running in the gym in July and August. At the moment I tend to get up early and do a long walk before work, about six miles, and in the evening I go for a long run – about 12 miles.

It’s not quite the daily distances you’ll be doing in October, though…
The problem is time. Considering that I have to go to work, and that the weather is getting hotter, it’s going to be difficult to squeeze in as much training as I really want to.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge along the way?
If there are sandstorms, I won’t have anywhere to hide – I have to cover the miles because I only have a week to do it, so I’ll have to keep walking. And I guess I’ll need patience, because it’s a long way to walk by yourself It’s not anyone’s ideal vacation! But it’s just a week, so I shouldn’t lose my sanity.

Let’s hope not! What will keep you going when it gets tough?
The main thing is to remember why I’m doing it, which is to raise money for Cancer Research. Keeping that in mind, I should stay on course and not jump in a taxi halfway.

Why Cancer Research?
My grandmother had cancer and my mum had cancer twice. It’s amazing how cancer has touched the lives of almost everyone you know, whether directly or indirectly. The response to my walk has reflected that –
within the first 10 days, I managed to achieve 30 per cent of my total sponsorship target.

So how will you celebrate when you reach Muscat?
I might treat myself to a night in the [five-star] Chedi hotel. If I get there in time, I want a night in a nice hotel.
Andrew is aiming to raise Dhs5,000 by October. To sponsor him, visit Got any walking tips for Andrew? Email

Freaky fundraising

People do the strangest things for charity. A British man, Ron Gordon, received a Champion Volunteer award for doing the following to raise cash:

• Had his beard plucked
• Munched maggots, locusts and a fish eyeball
• Completed a sponsored silence
• Received a haircut in the sea
• Was stretched between a tree and a reversing fire engine

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