Jonathon Goslin still can't really come to grips with the fact that he is about to run through the Sahara Desert after a bet with a mate.
Running 251km - the equivalent of six marathons in six days - through the formidable desert is certainly not for the faint-hearted.
The former Pleasant Point man will, however, join 1000 other hardy international competitors in the infamous Marathon des Sables in April - better known as the Marathon of the Sands, while he fundraises for Christchurch's Ronald McDonald House.
The gruelling endurance event is ranked by the Discovery Channel as the "toughest foot race on earth", with daily temperatures capable of reaching 50 degrees Celsius, in the moving sands.
Competitors are required to carry everything they need on their backs, and the course will see them running through sand dunes, evacuated towns and saltpans.
Goslin, an analyst at London firm Edison Investment Research, has been living in the United Kingdom for the past five years and will run the marathon alongside British friend Mark Croxford.
Goslin admitted he had asked himself whether he was mad repeatedly.
"But in a way I am looking forward to really challenging myself both physically and mentally.
He will turn 27 the day before the race which starts on April 5.
"So in other words, this is not one of the best birthday presents I have ever bought myself."
Goslin said he believed the heat is going to be the hardest challenge as temperatures can reach over 50 degrees Celsius regularly.
"There is really very little training I can do for that given the cold winter we are having in London," he said.
The pair committed to the event two years ago in the middle of a torrid English winter.
Holed up in a London pub, the idea was thrown about somewhat light-heartedly - however, due to the competitive nature of both men it became reality.
Goslin joked their discussions were centred firmly on finding some sunshine and this came up as an option.
"We both agreed that it was an excellent idea given it should be very sunny, it was a long way off and we both privately thought the other was bluffing and would soon dismiss the idea.
"However, as neither of us wanted to be the first one to pull out we have found ourselves with less than two months out from running 250km through the Sahara Desert."
Registration for the event opens two years in advance, and Goslin said securing a place can be likened to winning the lottery. "Entries typically sell out within hours, and there are significant waiting lists," Goslin said.
Goslin and Croxford ran the Berlin Marathon in 2010, and have become accustomed to training throughout the harsh London winter, complete with snow and negative temperatures.
"London is generally not renowned for its weather, which does provide challenges when you are supposed to be training for an ultra-marathon on sand with temperatures in the 50-degree Celsius range.
"Despite this, we have been able to complete the majority of planned training runs, and we will soon work on heat acclimation."
The pair have decided to use the marathon as a chance to raise funds for two charities - Ronald McDonald House South Island and the London Dispossessed Fund.
Ronald McDonald House provided free accommodation and support to Goslin's family when his younger sister was seriously ill in Christchurch Hospital.
"The house was invaluable for my family throughout this time, allowing them to stay close to the hospital and not worry about anything other than Sophia.
"The marathon provides a great opportunity for me to raise funds for this amazing facility."
Goslin said both charities are extremely worthwhile causes, and we encourage people to support us in this venture and really make a difference," adds Goslin.
"We are hoping to raise £10,000 (NZ$18,000), which will be split evenly between the two charities."
An online fundraising page has been set up at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/mds2013 and donors simply need to search Jonathon Goslin or Mark Croxford.
- The Timaru Herald