Dunstable dad runs 105 miles non-stop to honour daughter who has rare Microtia condition

Rob Mach, 39, has so far raised £5,712 for Microtia UK to raise awareness and thank them for helping his family.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 3:01 pm
Updated Friday, 18th June 2021, 9:20 am

A determined Dunstable father ran an incredible 105 miles in 35 hours to raise awareness about his daughter's rare ear condition.

Rob Mach, 39, has so far amassed £5,712 for Microtia UK after running non-stop around Beds, Bucks and Herts from 8am on Friday, June 4, to 6pm on Saturday, June 5.

Daring Rob was running in honour of his little girl Ava, six, who has a condition called Microtia, meaning her outer ear and ear canal did not develop properly, resulting in a ‘little’ ear and almost complete hearing loss on her right side.

Rob and Ava. Photos: Rob Mach.

On finishing the challenge, Rob said: "It was amazing! The reason I did 105 miles was so I could get four complete back-to-back marathons - 26.2miles.

"It took about 35 hours and it went really well.

"Ava is still buzzing about it. She came to meet me at Dunstable Downs at mile 98 and she did the last little bit with me. One of her school mates came up as well."

Ava occasionally wears a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) and, under the care of Great Ormond Street Hospital, will have the option of surgery in later childhood to potentially reconstruct her outer ear, and/or the option of a more permanently fixed hearing aid.

Left: Rob running with Ava and his friends. Right: Thinking of his daughter, Ava, kept Rob going. Photos: Rob Mach.

Posting on his JustGiving page, Rob wrote: "Despite being a completely normal, happy girl in every aspect of life, Ava’s Microtia means that she often has to work twice as hard in a lot of settings – from being at school to crowded shopping centres or other noisy environments; she can lose her spatial awareness quite easily and find certain loud sounds distressing."

He added: "Thanks to the support from the charity, we were able to quickly understand Ava’s condition, her options in the future and as a result, avoid feeling overwhelmed. This allowed us to enjoy every moment of her early life, love her ‘little’ ear and focus on bringing her up to be the funny, confident, capable and intelligent little girl we are so very proud of - equipped, thanks to Microtia UK to support her in the challenges and choices she may face."

Rob, whose work had been impacted by the lockdown, had been enjoying the benefit of going for runs, and decided to put his fitness to the test to help the charity.

Preparing hard, he slowly increased his distances from 50 miles in December to 66 miles in February, building up to the big day.

The nighttime run. Photo: Rob Mach.

Remembering the hardest part of the run - the night-time route - Rob told us: "The really horrible bit was the night section, from Berkhamsted canal to Watford.

"My sister did it with me, but the thing is you don't realise that there will be a lot of bats along the canal - they fly towards your face and you see them diverting.

"There were lots of rustles - it was very 'heebie-jeebie!'"

Luckily for Rob, there were plenty of friendly faces on the way, too, who either came to run alongside or give him supplies at various 'drop points'.

Rob leans on some supporting shoulders near the end of the challenge! Photo: Rob Mach.

Rob would like to thank the following people who came out to support or run with him (in order of when they popped up): Nikkie Darragh-Cassidy, Liz Harding, Laura Mach, Marius Ptas, Giggsy Jayaweera, John Jennings, Richard Winchester, Kaz Winchester, Michael Hicks, Lesley Reynolds, Thomas Reynolds, Paul Stack, Duncan Martin, Michael Fish, Robin Head, Jamie Head, Milan Mach, Craig Jowsey, Solomon Beere, Laura Jowsey, Laurence Hill, Flor Villas-Hill, Vicky Thomas, Chris Mach, Michelle Ayres, Mark Taylor, Sujatha Jayaweera, Square King, Riley Darragh-Cassidy, Chris Ferris, Chris Thurston, Claire Thurston, Frazer Lyons, Emma Lyons and Mark Darragh-Cassidy.

He added: "I would like to thank my immediate family and friends who have had to put up with me talking about this for so long, particularly my wife Laura, daughter Ava (training partner), Marius Ptas (friend / training coach), Square King (who helped me make the promo video) - and a special thanks to Liz Harding.

"She popped up four times at different points and must have completed around 40 miles herself - a great support throughout the run!"

Rob hopes the kind folks in Dunstable and Luton can spare some pennies to help Microtia UK.

He concluded: "Before Ava was born we had no idea what Microtia was. Everyone is the same really, until it affects you and you become aware."

To view Robert's route, visit: https://live.opentracking.co.uk/100mmuk21To donate to his JustGiving page, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rob-mach100milerTo find out more about Microtia, which affects one in 6000 babies, visit: http://www.microtiauk.org/