Rebecca races for the planet on World Toilet Day

Rebecca races for the planet on World Toilet Day

On 19th November, Rebecca Pattinson will set out to compete in Racing the Planets,Nepal, which covers the equivalent of six marathons – 156 miles – in the Himalayas, on a course containing 29,500ft of ascent, carrying everything she needs to survive all in aid of a charity close to her heart; Busoga Trust.

The challenge coincides with World Toilet Day, which serves to highlight the appalling lack of sanitation around the world. Currently 2.6 billion people worldwide lack access to basic sanitation. This directly results in diarrhoeal disease, which is the 2nd largest cause of death in children under the age of five globally.

The cause and the event are a very far cry from her day job as a yacht broker for Ocean Independence, so what could possibly have driven her to take on such a challenge?

Reasons for choosing this challenge:

 My Aunt, Jennifer Murray, was my primary incentive and inspiration – she is 71 and will be given a place in the 2012 Guinness Book of Records if she completes this ‘Race of the Planets’ in Nepal – as the oldest woman (indeed oldest person) to have ever completed an Ultra Marathon of such length and endurance.

I didn’t need much persuasion to sign up –  I love a challenge, in my life and my business, I believe every person has it in them to achieve something extra ordinary if they really want to – and running 250km in the mountains with 10kilos on your back is certainly not ordinary behaviour!

The Busoga Trust is a service provider NGO that has worked to provide water, sanitation and hygiene to the people of rural Uganda since 1982. We may not be well known, but we pride ourselves on actually doing the work on the ground, and maintaining a long term presence to support communities for successive generations.

In a country where only 64% of people have access to safe drinking water and 49% have basic sanitation, such help is vital. It is a situation which impacts most upon women and children, as they are both the most vulnerable to disease and they have to collect the water, walking miles each day carrying heavy loads. It was this that struck a chord with the athletic yacht broker.

 Choosing Busoga Trust

 I considered many charities but nothing grabbed me deep down, there are so many wonderful charities from Cancer Research to the Battersea Dogs Home, I talked to many Charity organizers.. and then I started learning about the Busoga Trust, I watched the video and tears were streaming down my face.  I quickly learnt what a small but dedicated and determined team are behind the operation and that any money I was able to raise would go straight to the heart of the cause – the overheads are small and the results are huge.  I was thinking how ironic is that during my race I will have to carry all my own equipment and food, but the only thing we are given (ever 10km) is several litres of water – I will basically be putting myself through hours and hours of agony, through my own choice and yet consuming gallons and gallons of water – without the water I would never make it, and without the access to water in these rural villages in Uganda, many of the women would not even make it to my age.

 It’s clearly not just about supplying these rural villages with water, but educating them into how to use the wells and how to ensure proper sanitation.  I will have to go 6 days without using a proper toilet or having a shower, I know that one thing keeping me going will be the knowledge that thousands of people in Uganda life like this for ever, so if I can get through the 6 days and keep up my fundraising efforts, perhaps I can change that for some – I will remember it every time I want to complain about my dirty hair or smelly socks, they are my inspiration now.

A remarkable effort from a remarkable woman, who aims to raise £10,000 for the Busoga Trust’s programmes in Uganda. You can follow her progress at through her race blog and donate to her efforts here