Prestatyn dad Luke Gratton has just returned from a life-changing adventure in Kenya, East Africa, with child development charity Compassion UK. The 38-year-old, who lives in the North Wales town with his wife and two sons, has gone from being a novice runner to taking on a Marathon in 40ºc heat in rural Kenya to raise money to help children living in poverty there.
Luke, a visual producer for npower, kicked off his training for the Muskathlon Challenge in aid of Compassion UK last June with 5km runs in his lunchbreaks. He gradually moved onto 10km runs and half marathons, setting himself a loop route around the town and beach in Prestatyn and local Rhyl.
“I’ve always played sport but I wasn’t a runner so it’s been a challenge to get up to marathon distance, however I’ve developed a love for running!” explains Luke. “My wife signed me up encouraging me to go on an adventure after completing the Muskathlon Challenge herself last year. I love the Muskathlon mantra – to live for a cause bigger than your own.”
Luke travelled out to Kenya in June for the week-long adventure with 55 other race-goers from across the UK. The Muskathlon is an overseas adventure challenge hosted by 4M UK for Compassion UK. The event encourages participants to find sponsors for children or raise funds to support local initiatives such as building classrooms and toilets. Participants choose from a half, full or ultra-marathon, 120km cycle or 42km or 63km walk through the communities for which they are fundraising.
To date Luke has raised almost £2,000 to support children living in poverty in Kenya. In addition, his supporters have sponsored two children in Kenya, and Luke and his family have also sponsored 6-year-old Boaz. This sponsorship of £25 a month is giving Boaz the chance to have a different future – he’s already been able to start school. Their support will enable him to be part of his local Compassion project where he will receive nutritious meals, emotional support, medical attention and the chance to get a good quality education.
Whilst in Kenya Luke visited Boaz and his family at home, taking a pack of gifts from his own family and also the Alive Church in Prestatyn – including colouring books, pencils, a teddy bear and even a welsh flag!
“It was humbling to see that £25 – equivalent to a meal out here in Wales – can make such a huge difference to a child and their entire family each month. Eight of them live in a corrugated iron shack and the dad struggles to bring in money as they don’t have any land. We tried to put a smile on Boaz’s face and give his family hope for the future.”
Luke and his team-mates made the 26 mile run in 40ºc over “knee-crippling” terrain with rocks, stones, potholes and even a river crossing in an impressive time of 5 hours and 20 minutes. “I deliberately made sure I didn’t start at too fast a pace. It got up to 44ºc during the challenge and you could feel the heat radiating off the mud.” said Luke.
Now back in the UK Luke reflects on the challenge: “Definitely step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to live for a cause bigger than yourself. Be prepared for your whole world to be rocked, but that’s not a bad thing. You can see adverts and news reports about poverty but you need to see it to fully appreciate the conditions people are living in.”
The 2019 Muskathlon for Compassion UK is taking place in Rwanda in East Africa next June, with money being raised to help children living in poverty there.