Shoreham woman raises more than £2,200 for Hearing Dogs by trekking across the Sahara
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Caroline Jefferson, 54, who is profoundly deaf, completed the epic challenge in October, finishing tenth out of ninety participants. She explained: “The temperature was between 30-40 degrees each day. We started off with torchlight so we could make the most of the cooler weather before the sun rose.
“You picture the Sahara as rolling sand dunes, but in fact it looks more like the surface of the moon. The rocks are easier to walk on though; the last two miles of the route were sand. It was like the dry sand you get in an egg timer – it just fell away from your feet when you walked; two steps forward, one step back!”
Caroline said the highlight of the trip for her came on the second day. “Just after we set off, we came across a herd of around 50 camels. It was early in the morning, so they were bathed in that lovely ‘early morning glow’. That was a really magical moment.
“Seeing the finish line come into sight was another great feeling. When I saw it, I just felt my whole body relax. Beyond it there was music and a chill-out area and a lovely swing seat with plush padded cushions. I sat on the swing seat with a fellow walker/runner, drinking a Fanta to replenish my blood sugars - it was bliss!
Caroline explained that the two biggest challenges for her were the camping and the lack of sleep. “As if pitching your tent on hard, rocky ground wasn’t enough, the rocky floor of the desert was also covered in huge thorns”, she said. “On the first day, I made the mistake of crawling into my tent and then had to pick all the thorns out of my hands and knees!
Caroline spent a long time planning for her trip, and her preparations clearly paid off. “I spent literally months doing a blister analysis, buying and trying different pairs of socks, and generally agonising over whether I had everything right”, she said, “but luckily everything I’d worried about was absolutely fine.
“The stars of the show were my desert gaiters. They were expensive, and having them sewn onto my shoes to prevent sand, dust and debris getting in, wasn’t cheap, but it was worth every penny.
“I’m so grateful to everyone who contributed to my fundraising. I have first-hand knowledge of the difference these amazing dogs make to deaf people’s lives, and if the money we’ve raised together can help change the life of another person with hearing loss, it will be very worthwhile.”
Now Caroline has her eye on another, even more gruelling, challenge. “Doing the Ultra Saharan Challenge made me realise that I’m actually quite good at endurance events in the heat. I don’t want to say too much about the new challenge, but let’s just say it will definitely take me out of my comfort zone!”
Anyone wanting to donate to Caroline’s fundraising appeal can visit her Just Giving page.