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Richard Cullen - ultramarathoner

Richard Cullen
Richard Cullen (BSc International Business 1993-7) is about to run the 25th Marathon des Sables - dubbed the hardest foot race in the world. This ultra race takes place over seven days in the Sahara desert and covers 250km through some of the world's highest sand dunes. Richard is running this race for the charity Facing Africa which works to eradicate Noma, a disease which eats away the suffers' face.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A vet
What was the best careers advice you were given?
Not sure I was ever given great advice. Old school headmaster said to stick to your traditional “hard subjects” such as mathematics or sciences if you’re good at them. However I’m not sure school really prepares you for the world of work.
Describe yourself in three words
Only three! Determined; Fun; Creative
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Managing the torrents of emails, phone calls and meetings on a daily basis whilst maintaining excellent relationships with clients.
What have you done that you are most proud of?

I came top of my course at Warwick - International Business with French which was a nice surprise as I balanced my time between the Students' Union bar and the various sports clubs. It was great, the press turned up on graduation day to take my photo!

Participation in the world's toughest footrace is my proudest moment currently.
What drives you?
I want to make a difference in the world and make the most of my time on this planet hence my participation in the Marathon des Sables and raising awareness and money for the charity Facing Africa. I like to push myself mentally and physically which the Marathon des Sables is all about.
What single thing would most improve the quality of your life?
A time machine that added an extra five hours to my day - I’m sure we could all do with that!
What three objects would you take with you to a desert island
An inflatable dingy; mirror; solar powered radio.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years’ time?
To have raised over £1million for charitable causes; that or sitting on my yacht in the Bahamas!
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who touched people’s lives personally, made a difference and was fun to be around and didn’t take themselves too seriously!
What are your favourite memories of your university years at Warwick?
Perhaps far too many and too graphic to share. The Monday night discos and Top Bananas at the Students' Union; the events I helped organise for the Warwick Student Business Society; the drinking exploits and hockey tours with the Men's Hockey team; and of course the library! Stressing out at 3am in the computer room with 40 other students struggling to finish final year essays. A lot of camaderie was built in those dark hours.
Do you have any advice for new graduates and undergraduates?
Yes. Involve yourself in as much as possible during your three or four years at Warwick. You’ll never again have so much free time, the endless long summers after exams, so enjoy it and join in with some clubs and societies and don’t spend your time stressing too much as it goes by in a flash.
Anything else you would like to add?

On 3rd April 2010 I am taking part in one of the world’s most arduous physical challenges, the Marathon des Sables or Marathon of the Sands, to raise money for the charity Facing Africa. Alongside 700 competitors, I will run the equivalent of six marathons in seven days while carrying a backpack weighing up to 16kg (35 pounds) containing food, a sleeping bag, flares, a first aid kit, a stove and anti-venom pump. Water is rationed to nine litres a day. The event takes place in blistering heat in the Sahara desert in southern Morocco with temperatures of 49C (120F).

I am running 60 miles a week in the mornings before and evenings after work to train for this event. I’ll be running alongside the likes of Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell and the chef Tom Aiken.
About Facing Africa

Facing Africa is a charity which combats Noma, a gangrenous infection in sub-Saharan Africa which eats away at the sufferer's face. Noma is found almost exclusively in malnourished children in the poorest countries. Antibiotics can treat the infection at its early stages but, once established, there is no cure.

Facing Africa funds reconstructive surgery for survivors, who are often shunned by society because of the severe disfigurement of their faces. 90% of the people who contract the disease die. The World Health Organisation estimates that up to 500,000 children are victims of Noma and that over 100,000 aged 2-6 contract Noma every year. Once facila decomposition has set in, 4 out of 5 children will die if they do not reach a hospital in time and as most of the victims live in abject poverty and in remote villages, medical treatment is not a consideration. Most survivors will not be able to eat or speak normally.

You can follow Richard's preparations for running the Marathon des Sables on his blog.

Richard Cullen: the facts

Wandsworth Common, south west London
Education Bristol Cathedral School; University of Warwick BSc International Business (1993-7)

Audit KPMG ; Account Director Reed Elsevier/Thomson Reuters managing Global Financial Services clients such as Tier 1 Investment Banks- Barclays, Citi, Investment Management firms offering software solutions to front and backoffice.

Currently Sales Manager (Europe, Middle East and Africa) for Wolters Kluwer Financial Services delivering anti-fraud, anti-money laundering and compliance solutions to Regulatory and compliance departments of financial services firms regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

Interests Ultra marathon running; rugby; circuit training; travel - recently returned from cave exploring and abseiling in the jungles of Belize.

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