Racing the sun

Friday, 14 February 2014

Bill Biffin, MLC's Acting Head of Science, is about to go on a sun-drenched race across the Sahara Desert to raise money for melanoma research.

He says that the Sahara Race may be his last endurance race. He and his friend, Dr Jamie Prendiville, have already competed in three ultra-endurance races.

"In 2012 Jamie and I competed in the Atacama ultra-endurance race in Chile, the 2010 Kimberley Race and in 2008 the Gobi Desert Race," Mr Biffin said.

"These 250-kilometre, seven-day races are rated as some of the hardest ultra-endurance races in the world. It is very fitting that these ultraviolet-flooded races are used as a means of funding Melanoma research. Sun exposure is clearly the major environmental factor to bring on melanoma."

Money raised by Mr Biffin and Dr Prendiville will help fund research that is being undertaken by the Scott Kirkbride Melanoma Research Centre (SKMRC) in Western Australia, which is an arm of the newly renamed Harry Perkins Institute (formerly WAIMR).

"Despite the pain Jamie and I have been through to complete these races it is nowhere near the pain that Scott Kirkbride and his family went through after he was diagnosed with melanoma until his death in 2004 at the age of 27," Mr Biffin said.

"Melanoma is a disease of young people and is the major cancer cause of death between the ages of 15 and 40 years of age."

The Sahara Race has been held in Egypt for the past nine years but has moved to Jordan as a result of recent political unrest . The 250-kilometer course is in the Badia region of Jordan. The stunning course will take 191 competitors from nearly 40 countries through four distinct deserts, finishing on 22 February in the red formations of the ancient city of Petra.

"Your donations could help save the lives of your children, brothers and sisters, relatives and perhaps even yourself. Any amount would be great; there is never an amount that is too small and certainly never an amount that is too much," Mr Biffin said.

"All donations will go towards melanoma research and will not be used to finance our race."

Bill Biffin