Former Northampton serviceman raises more than £4,000 for charity with gruelling 50km run around Table Mountain

Paul completed the Cape Town race to support Thames Valley Air Ambulance for crews efforts to help friend who died in car crash

By Jack Duggan
Friday, 11th June 2021, 7:14 am

A former serviceman from Northampton has raised more than £4,000 for charity by running 50km on Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.

Paul Downes completed the gruelling course last month in memory of his friend, Dean Saunders, and to support Thames Valley Air Ambulance

In August, 2011, Dean died in a motorbike incident despite the best efforts of the air ambulance crew, which were among the first on the scene.

Paul Downes during his run around Table Mountain National Park for Thames Valley Air Ambulance

Paul, 35, said: “Seldom do you meet someone like Dean who’s thirst for life is so infectious that it inspires others around you to challenge themselves to be better in all aspects of life.

"I’m not a runner but ten years on, this is a fitting tribute to remember a dear friend and a great way for me to fundraise for a fantastic charity.”

Paul, who now lives and works in Mozambique, took part in Ultra Trail Cape Town's The Special Edition race around the iconic mountain on May 22.

The trail comprises of two separate 25km routes that form a figure of eight across the northern section of Table Mountain National Park.

The two loops are equally challenging as both offer runners a mix of technical terrain, single and jeep tracks with steep ascents and descents, according to Ultra Trail Cape Town.

Weather can vary drastically with single-digit temperatures in the early morning on top of Table Mountain to 30 degrees plus during the latter part of the day.

Paul finished 69th overall, despite making it clear he is no runner on his JustGiving page, with a time of 11 hours and 53 minutes.

Ruth Dunkin, head of community and events at the air ambulance charity, said: “We are so grateful to Paul for taking on this challenge and smashing his fundraising target.

"As a charity, we rely solely on people like Paul whose support means we can provide hospital care to the most critically ill and injured patients.”