Talk about going the extra mile to aid a worthy cause — how about 150+ extra miles, in a span of six days? That’s what Chris Pinder accomplished this spring when he competed in the Marathon Des Sables to raise funds for Together For Cinema, the UK-based charitable organization that works with manufacturing sponsors and integrators to design and install theater rooms in children’s hospices.
He and Together For Cinema founder Ian Morrish, who like HDANYWHERE‘s Pinder has gone above and beyond for the group, joined me on the CE Pro Podcast to go into details about this ultra-marathon endurance test, what it means for the group and the latest Together For Cinema updates and projects.
“Marathon” hardly describes what’s known as “the world’s toughest footrace,” which took place in late March and early April. Staged in the Sahara Desert in Morocco, participants run the equivalent of roughly six marathons — 250 kilometers, or about 155 miles — over six days in grueling heat and sometimes sandstorm conditions, carrying food, water and bivouac tents with them.
If that sounds crazy enough, consider that Pinder, managing director of AV signal distribution provider HDANYWHERE as well as distributor OneAV, was far from an extreme athlete when he targeted the Marathon Des Sables to promote Together For Cinema.
“I wouldn’t have described myself as an athlete until about a year ago,” says Pinder, 36. “I played soccer and I was just a goalkeeper, so I never did much running in all my years of soccer.”
Together For Cinema Efforts Embraced by HDANYWHERE
Pinder got involved in Together For Cinema with HDANYWHERE donating cables and video matrix products for the theater installations, of which the organization has now completed more than 30 since it was started by founder Ian Morrish.
“It was a perfect combination of passion for what we do professionally and a really undeniably worthy cause — it’s children, it’s their families, the amazing volunteers who care for them,” Pinder says.
He wanted to do a challenge that would make people “have a double-take when they saw it, that I was doing such a ridiculous challenge.”
Early on, his hopes could have easily been dashed. Pinder says he started training about 10 months beforehand, when he visited a UK ultra-running legend/coach, Rory Coleman.
“The first time I met Rory he said, ‘What’s your marathon time?’ and I told him I’d never run a marathon. He was like, ‘OK, what’s your half-marathon time?’ and I said I don’t have one. He said, ‘Are you for real? People train for three years to do this race.’”
Coleman told Pinder that unless he could finish six marathons in six days before a Christmas deadline, there was no point in heading to the Sahara. Pinder was not only undeterred, but even more determined. With Coleman’s guidance, he began running 100 miles a week.
Morrish, wanting to assist Pinder, was also somewhat naïve about the race. “I thought well I’ll just go with him to Morocco and go from hotel to hotel and every evening we can share a drink. I thought I should be there to spur him on … I had absolutely no idea what he was getting into.”
Instead, as a show of support Morrish cycled a marathon’s worth of miles daily during the race period. “I said to him, ‘Just get home safe.’”
Not only did Pinder return safely to a joyous airport reunion with his wife and daughters, but he finished the event in 34 hours, 43 minutes, 29 seconds, good for an incredible 158th place out of 1,000+ competitors. Donations for Together For Cinema netted a whopping £46,220, or roughly $57,000.
A simple message from one of his daughters to “do well, Daddy,” fueled Pinder as he repeated it to himself throughout, especially when he ran low on food or one time another runner came to his aid to keep going.
“It’s a brutal race, but that’s why people do it. It makes you appreciate what you have in our day-to-day life,” Pinder says. “One day in the desert is nowhere near as hard as what some of these families and these children are facing whilst they’re in a hospice — if you’re in a hospice we all know what that means. It’s far more tough than what I faced, and I had that on my mind as well.”
To hear much more from Pinder and Morrish, watch or download the CE Pro Podcast episode above. Find past episodes of the CE Pro Podcast by subscribing to the CE Pro YouTube channel or our Apple and Spotify podcast feeds.