Team Spotlight: Mick Horton


Wednesday 24th January 2018

During the Marathon des Sables, competitors run on average 26 miles every day in the scorching Sahara heat. They’ll need to be on their feet for long hours and keep a cool head under pressure. 

As a member of our Fire Crew, Mick is well accustomed to long and unpredictable days but the race still presents an epic challenge. 

“I’ve had a few people ask me ‘are you mad?’ I can neither deny nor confirm that," laughs Mick.

On being a Fire Officer

“No two days at the helipad are ever the same. In theory, we [Fire Crew] are there to prevent or put out a fire but that’s not all - we man the operations room, we’re health and safety and first aids for the helipad, we’re tour guides for visitors and much more.

“When the klaxon goes off announcing a mission, the Fire Crew run up to supervise the aircraft taking off.

“If a patient will be coming back to The Royal London Hospital, we’ll get a bed ready and assist with the offload. Our main concern is the patient’s safety."

On training

“The amount of time I spend on my feet working shifts makes training a real struggle. Some days I’ve been getting up at 4:40, running 2 ½ miles to the train station, then running 4 miles from St Pancras to work. I do a day’s shift, take the train home and run back to my house. My tracker’s been telling me I’m doing 14 miles and 23,000 steps on these days! On others, I’ve been cycling to and from the station to mix things up.

“I’m mostly looking forward to seeing the sights of the desert, and to knowing that I’ve done 256 km carrying all my own things, self-sustained in the Sahara. It’s definitely going to be difficult; we’re going to be running at our own pace, meeting up at night, having food, a little bit of sleep, and then up the next day and doing the same again.

“I’ve decided it’s just a walk in a sandpit – but it is a long walk in a very big, very hot sandpit!”

On motivation

“The best part of the job for me is to see a patient that you have worked with come to visit the helipad. When we meet them, it’s normally the worst day of their life, and we see them rushed down to the hospital. Seeing them come back up is quite wonderful.”

If you would like to find out more about Marathon Des Sables and donate to our team, please visit our JustGiving page or follow @LAAinthedesert on Twitter.

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