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Hanging Up his Stethoscope to Compete in Iceland

The ER doctor and regular medical director of RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts events, Dr. Mark Ellis, will temporarily hang up his stethoscope and take part as a competitor in RacingThePlanet’s 2013 Roving Race in Iceland. While RacingThePlanet races in wild and remote locations have always intrigued him, Mark confesses to being more of a mountain biker than a runner. “Running is not my favourite sport.” But that all changed after the Gobi March (China) 2012. “Sam [Samantha Fanshawe, President of the Events] had talked about how great the Iceland race was going to be and I figured that if I ever had an inkling to run one, I'd rather it not be in a sweltering hot desert”, says the Texan native who was attracted by Iceland’s cooler temperatures. 

“Plus after working at more than five races you see that ordinary people are running these things - people that don't have oodles of time to train - and they're finishing. I figured if they could do it, that I could as well.”

He has enjoyed being part of the RacingThePlanet medical team for years – seeing it as a way to combine his passion for travel with his medical experience. Meanwhile, his wife Sarah gets a run around managing three children under the age of five.  

Bitten by the bug, Mark had to ask for Sarah’s approval of his endeavours. Her response?  “The only way she'd let me run is if she could run, too.”  

So, while many husbands may take their wives on a beach holiday, Mark and Sarah are celebrating ten years together by competing in RacingThePlanet: Iceland 2013. The pair joins many other dynamic RacingThePlanet duos swapping date night for running night.   Since signing up, Mark and Sarah have been logging miles of training together and have registered for a 50km race in June. Now their weekends are spent hiking with their three young children - which is an adventure in itself, he says. 

Mark believes his first-hand insights from the medical tent will come in handy in Iceland. After seeing so many destroyed feet in the past he says he will take extra care of them during the Roving Race to avoid being a casualty.

While he expects many physical challenges across the diverse terrain, the biggest one will be the logistics of running with a pack. “I know we'll train with one, but the concept of 10 kilograms on my back while running for that long seems difficult.”

Mark is looking forward to experiencing the event from a new viewpoint and seeing a beautiful country off the beaten path. But it’s the time with Sarah that’s the biggest draw card. “I must say I’m excited to spend 10 days with my wife on a vacation without the kids.”

The question remains, who will be first to the finish line? Out of the two, Mark says Sarah is the faster runner and will be the one to watch in Iceland. "I'm more of an obligate runner - like when Sarah signs me up for races," he explains. “I just hope she doesn't leave me in the dust.”

By Rachel Jacqueline

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