Its organisers call it the toughest footrace on earth – the equivalent of five and a half marathons, in scorching heat, in six days – and one Fylde man has just completed it.
Lytham lad James Reid, 35, finished the tortuous Marathon de Sables (MdS), running more than 250km in just six days in the red-hot heat of the Sahara Desert in Africa.
James, a pharmacy owner who now lives in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, completed the challenge with friend Drew Bogdanovs.
He said the race was every bit as tough as he expected: “When you plough your feet through the sand, a fine dust kicks up. You can’t feel the sweat dripping down your face because it’s evaporating in the baking heat. Your lungs feel parched. There is only one temperature – hot.”
The race, first established in 1986, has continued to go from strength to strength, with places quickly booked up and a long waiting list as athletes test themselves in the most demanding of conditions.”
James, a former Arnold student, took on the challenge for two charitable causes.
He raised around £1,500 for the Ben Trend Get Involved charity, named after a Fylde man who tragically drowned on holiday in South Africa, as well as more than £7,500 for the Ronald McDonald Hospice for Children in Newcastle, Australia.
James added: “Ben was a very loved friend and everyone who knew him would say he was one of life’s genuine good guys. His untimely death was a shock to us all and a stark reminder that life is too short.
“My aim is to convince ordinary people that they can do extraordinary things and as an ordinary person I thought I would attempt something extraordinary. It lived up to its reputation as the worlds toughest race.
“Seven toe nails gone but I wouldn’t change a thing and given the chance I would do it again tomorrow!”