Dion Leonard's desert marathon quest a great triumph
IMAGINE running one marathon per day for seven days straight.
Then imagine on the fourth day you run the equivalent of two marathons.
Former Warwick resident Dion Leonard did just that recently.
Mr Leonard, who lived in Warwick between the ages of 5-23 but now lives in Edinburgh in Scotland, recently competed in the Kalahari Extreme Marathon - a 250km, six-stage, seven-day ultra footrace in the South African Kalahari Desert.
Not only did Mr Leonard finish the race, he finished second in a field containing a three-time winner of the event, and multiple other high-level athletes.
"I'm absolutely thrilled," Mr Leonard said.
"To compete with professional athletes whilst I hold a full-time job which requires a lot of travel is no easy feat.
"I had a goal of finishing in the top five but on the start line, looking at the competitors - some previous winners and one a three-time winner, I thought I would be lucky to finish in the top 10.
"After the first day I was blown away when I finished fifth and then over the remainder of the week I pushed hard to pick off the guys above me as they grew tired and had injuries.
"I wanted to win the long stage day and although I held the stage and overall winner from Turkey, Mahmut Yavaz, until checkpoint six out of 10, he beat me in the end by two minutes."
Mr Leonard ran the race for charity.
"I raised $10,000 for pancreatic cancer in memory of Nelson McCosker (Mr Leonard's stepfather and father of Warwick triathlete Seth Jameson) and a colleague of mine who both died from the disease."
Mr Leonard, who did 100-150km of training per week for the event, said he had developed a "thirst for extreme challenges" and wanted to compete in more.