On Monday 15 April, Julian Mellor (47) from Dulwich in London completed the 156-mile Marathon des Sables (MdS) in Morocco on behalf of Walk Once More – a spinal cord injury (SCI) charity.

Julian, a former Romney Marsh publican (Kent) was one of 978 runners taking part in the elite ultra-marathon. The father-of-two signed up with Walk Once More to raise awareness of spinal cord injury and to assist the charity in raising awareness of those currently living with the after-effects of SCI, as well as those yet to be injured.

The majority of SCI victims are between the ages of 16 and 25 when their injuries are sustained (incurred). Around 75% are male. It is estimated that around 150,000 people will sustain a SCI annually.

Speaking after his triumph Julian said, “I chose to compete in the 34th MdS for Walk Once More after I lost my livelihood, my home and everything. One day I managed to buy some cheap trainers with my last £20 and started running whilst attending counselling sessions for depression. The running really helped to focus my mind. I lost weight and I managed to slowly build a new business.

“It felt good to be back on my feet again but I couldn’t forget the lows. I vowed to complete the MdS and also promised to my wife, Mary, that I’d complete the 156 mile African ultra-marathon even if I had to crawl across finish line. I knew I’d succeed for the thousands of people who physically can’t walk or run because of their spinal cord injury.”

Walk Once More Fundraising Coordinator Isabella Smith said, “We are both honoured and humbled to be chosen by Julian as the beneficiary of his Marathon des Sables triumph.

“The funds and awareness will support of our quest to expedite a cure for spinal cord injury and will be invaluable. This unwavering spirit is something many victims of such a debilitating injury must also rely upon, just to make it through each day.”

The ultra-marathon took place between 5 April – 15 April in the Moroccan dessert and temperatures reached over 120 Fahrenheit. Julian set himself a fundraising target of £4,000 and wearing bib 521 he successfully completed his MdS challenge in a time of 47hrs and 42 minutes.

You can still support Julian’s fundraising target for Walk Once More: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/julianmds

Walk Once More relies on the donations and support of individuals and organisations World-Wide. We hope you will feel inspired to help us to fund the most promising advances in chronic Spinal Cord Injury cure research.