By Clare Morin
You’d be amazed to know how many 4 Deserts competitions begin in a bar. Friends are out one night innocently having a drink, when someone brings the story of an epic desert race to the table. And all of their lives collectively change.
Such was the case with British friends, Tom Soper (37), Ian Holdcroft (36) and Chris Gibson (37). “It was all of Ian’s fault,” points out Essex-based Chris, who works as the Executive Director of the Impex Management Company. “He got us drunk one night and told us it would be a good idea.”
Ian, who is a self-employed financial trader in London, points out that he was looking for a challenge at the time, both physically and mentally. “I heard about RacingThePlanet through a friend who had competed in the Gobi, and thought that the Atacama would be an ideal opportunity to test me.”
After hearing about the Gobi March (and perhaps aided by the flow of booze), the three friends were unanimously into the idea. At this point, Tom - a photographer who is now based in Singapore – brought another idea to the table. (Tom is the common thread through this group of friends - he and Chris went to school together, and Tom and Ian were at university together).
Before moving to Singapore, Tom had been working for the acclaimed Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in the United Kingdom. The British charity “celebrates the universal power of sport to bring people together as a force for good and uses the passion that sport inspires to effect social change across the globe.”
Tom had traveled to India to visit one of the charity’s projects that aims to promote sporting opportunities for children who are suffering or have suffered with Polio. “Not only does the charity benefit these children physically,” says Tom. “But it helps them socially, improving their general lifestyle.”
The three friends decided that this would be a worthy charity to run for, and they also decided to raise funds for a local boxing club in East London that is “helping get local kids off the street to give them focus.” So far the three friends have raised more than GBP 6,500, more than double their original target.
Now that they are out in this wild terrain, the three friends agree that the Atacama Crossing is offering more than a mere challenge. “I’m not expecting this race to be life-changing,” says Ian. “But I do think it will be life enhancing.”