Barker Insurance

Conquering the Sahara for Qhubeka


THE CHALLENGE: Conquering the Marathon Des Sables for Qhubeka

Barker Brothers, Rhett, and Lloyd are no strangers to athletic quests, having participated in multiple running and cycling events, including the Argus, Cape Epic, Ironman, Otter Marathon, and Comrades. This time, however, they’re taking on their biggest challenge yet, the Marathon Des Sables (MDS) from 21 April 2023, and they’re doing it to raise funds for Qhubeka!

  • The MDS, also known as the most brutal footrace on earth, is an annual ultramarathon held in the Sahara Desert.

  • Covering over 250km in just six days, the race is not only physically daunting but mentally demanding.

  • Participants must carry their own food, sleeping bags, and supplies for the entire duration, and must also contend with extreme heat, treacherous sandstorms, along with loose and rugged terrain.


Competitors must dig deep to push through the exhaustion, dehydration, and blisters that come with running a marathon a day for six consecutive days.

The race is not for the faint of heart and requires months of grueling training, preparation, and mental fortitude to complete.

Despite the challenges, the Barker brothers are drawn to the thrill and excitement of testing their limits in one of the most inhospitable environments on the planet, to raise funds for a cause very close to their hearts, Qhubeka.

THE PREPARATION: Training for the Ultimate Desert Challenge

Upon hearing about the Marathon Des Sables (MDS) from his brother Lloyd, Rhett readily agreed to join in on the challenge. However, as the days passed, the magnitude of the challenge began to sink in. With 12 months before the start, it was time to begin preparing for the challenge ahead.

First on the training agenda was to shift their exercise routine from cycling less to running more. Together with Lloyd, he also hired a running coach, Neville Beeton, who has completed over 250 marathons and helped numerous runners achieve their personal goals.

A typical training week included:

  • five runs totaling around seven hours

  • With an additional big week every three weeks of up to 18 hours of running

Another obstacle was acquiring the appropriate kit and food for the six-day expedition in the massive, parched expanse of the Sahara Desert.

Rhett and Lloyd spent months doing extensive research and meticulous gear testing. Even simple shoes and socks are critical items to the success of a challenge of this magnitude.

Despite numerous setbacks and challenges, the Barker duo have poured an enormous amount of time, resources, and heart into preparing for the impending ultra-marathon.

Lloyd and Rhett both agree that the pre-race journey has been an adventure in itself, filled with self-discovery and growth, the support of their family and friends, and with the finish line in sight, the brothers stand side by side, ready to take on the adventure of a lifetime.


THE HEARTBEAT: Running for a Cause

While Rhett and Lloyd prepared both physically and mentally for the tumultuous race, they have simultaneously been raising funds for Qhubeka, a charity that they have supported for many years, that works to provide bicycles to underprivileged children in Africa.

Each step the siblings take in the scorching desert will be a reminder of the children who walk up to 10km to and from school every day (that’s 400km per month), and how every bicycle earned can change a child's life by saving them time and energy, and so enhancing their concentration in class, as well as empowering them to experience the simple joys of childhood.

The brothers' ultimate goal is to inspire others to confront and overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges for a meaningful cause, and their journey through the Sahara is just their first step toward achieving that. Rhett and Lloyd are determined to make a difference, and they hope to inspire others to do the same.

Thank you for joining them in making a huge difference in many children’s lives. Your support gives them the strength and motivation to overcome this challenging desert adventure.


We have set up an easy payment portal via GivenGain to allow our Barker family and friends to support Qhubeka’s cause.