Editor’s Note: Starting on July 14, ultra-endurance brothers Scott and Rhys Jenkins from Wales, United Kingdom, hope to set the World Record for the ‘Fastest Double Crossing of Death Valley on Foot’ by attempting to run 10 marathons in four days. The pair is also hoping to raise £10,000 or $14,000 for Save the Children and Operation Smile – two signature partners of Johnson & Johnson. In addition to raising funds on their own, the brothers are supporting the charities by raising funds through the Johnson & JohnsonDonate a Photo app and the Charity Miles app. Scott, who works for ourDePuy Synthes business, shares his trepidation about the almost impossible race terrain and his motivation to help children around the world.
On Tuesday (July 14), my younger (and in his humble opinion, better looking) brother and I will be attempting to run a double crossing of Death Valley in California, trying to set a new world record in the process. Rhys and I have aptly named this challenge the Death Valley Double. To date, only eight individuals have attempted such a feat and only three have managed to complete it. No British individual has ever attempted it, until now. We aim to be the first British duo to complete the Death Valley Double, and also attempt to break the current unofficial record held by Kenneth Posner of 94 hours and 39 minutes.
Here’s our challenge by the numbers: 292 miles/470 kilometers from the lowest point in the Continental United States (Badwater) to the highest (Mount Whitney). The average temperature is around 120ºF/48ºC but can get as high as 130ºF/54ºC. The route we’ve chosen is the original Badwater Ultra-Marathon, a race consistently voted the toughest footrace on earth.
Along the way, we expect to encounter some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet. The risk of severe heat injury – or even worse, heat stroke – is high. Couple that with scorpions and snakes, and the occasional coyote or brown bear. That’s before I start worrying about running through the night with no sleep and hallucinating from exhaustion. Now you might understand why it’s called the Death Valley Double.
I’m fortunate in that I can take each mile, each minute, each moment one at a time. We’ve trained extremely hard and our prior challenges stand us in good stead. We once ran 75 marathons in 75 days, so we have some sense of what to expect and how to battle through it. It’s as much a mental game as a physical one.
Relentless. Forward. Motion. I keep these three words in mind. I know there will be an end. Just keep moving forward. My sense of trepidation, suffering and pain is temporary.
But what if it wasn’t? What if I was born into severe poverty? What if I was a child with little opportunity in life? What if I was born with severe cleft lip or cleft palate deformities, but had no surgical intervention to correct it? Would it be possible to keep moving forward? Help and support would be crucial to improving quality of life and opportunity. In fact, both would be essential.
Fortunately, there are two wonderful charities, Operation Smile and Save the Children, which do just that. They provide help, support and surgical intervention for children in need. Since joining Johnson & Johnson, I’ve been so impressed by the work we do as an organization and as individuals to support these two charities. Since the partnership began in 1988, Johnson & Johnson – starting with Ethicon and expanding to DePuy Synthes and our other business sectors – has mobilized more than 10,000 employees and provided nearly $25 million in monetary and product donations to the international children’s medical charity.
That’s why my brother and I are aiming to not only break a world’s record, but also raise funds for these two groups. We are using two apps that effortlessly let people do good by donating a photo or miles run, walked or biked to these charities. For every photo shared to Operation Smile or Save the Children through the Donate a Photo app, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 to the selected cause.* And through Charity Miles, you can raise funds for Operation Smile, and other causes, just by tracking your run, bike, or walk.
The commitment described in Our Credo – our responsibility to the world community – will motivate Rhys and me as we push through our Death Valley challenge. When I will think of these words: Relentless. Forward. Motion, it’s not just for me or my brother, but also for the children.
Let’s be relentless in helping others move forward.
You can cheer the brothers on by following their trek on social media using #DeathValleyDouble where they will be sharing updates on their Twitter handle @thejenkobros and Facebook page www.facebook.com/thejenkobros. Please note that while Scott and Rhys are training carefully for this, we urge our readers to check with their doctor before undertaking any sort of physical activity or challenge like this.