Brothers prepare for 200km jungle marathon after daring each other to take part

A brotherly joke has led to two Brighton men taking on one of the ‘toughest challenges in the world’ to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).

Steve and Gary Dhiman during their ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2011
Steve and Gary Dhiman during their ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2011

Steven Dhiman, 33, who works for a Brighton e-learning company, will take on the Escape the Jungle challenge next week with his brother, Gary Dhiman, 37.

Originally from Bewbush, Crawley, the brothers are no strangers to adventure; both climbed Mount Kilimanjaro together in 2011 and ran in the 2018 Palestine Marathon.

“We like to do the occasional challenge together as brothers but we’re also quite competitive as well and have that sibling rivalry and wind each other up a bit for a laugh,” Steven said.

However, Steven explained that their decision to take part in the 200km trek through Belize, Central America stemmed from a brotherly joke.

“This actually started as a joke,” he said.

“Gary sent me a link to the challenge and said ‘Are you up for this next?’. I viewed the link and as a joke replied saying ‘yes’. He questioned me and I said I was serious.

After receiving Steven’s unexpected response, Gary decided that he was also going to take part in the challenge.

“There’s no way he could let me have that glory on my own, on the off chance that I actually succeeded in this challenge he’d never hear the end of it. So he came back to me saying he’s doing it!” Steven said.

“I was only on a wind up but now it was my bluff being called, I couldn’t back out. And it escalated and now we’re here.”

Although the challenge started off as a joke, the pair will require rigorous training.

The duo will leave next Friday, February 21 after a week of endurance training in a Sussex University heat chamber in Eastbourne.

Jungle marathons are considered among the most challenging experiences and Steven and Gary will have to travel 200km alone for six days with a map, compass, machete, and 2kg of emergency rice.

Before setting off on their journey the pair will receive six days of special forces training and will be split up to test their skills.

“We must spend one night completely alone in the jungle – not even with each other, alone alone,” Steven said.

“Providing we have passed all their tests, we begin the actual race on March 2.”

Although a medical professional will be following the brothers through the jungle, they have signed a waiver due to the risks involved.

Steven said: “There’s not a lot they can do if for a example you’re crossing a river and a crocodile comes for you. We’ve had to sign a very comprehensive waiver and whatever happens, succeed or fail, live or die, there are no regrets, we know the risks.”

The brothers hope to raise sponsorship money during their monumental challenge for the GOSH and MAP charities.

Great Ormond Street Hospital provides specialist care for sick children, including a young child Steven and Gary ‘care very much about’.

Medical Aid for Palestinians supports medical professionals in the West Bank and Gaza where Steven spent time as a human rights activist.

For more information about Steven and Gary’s challenge and for information on how to donate, visit their fundraising page here.