James de Kettering prepares for the world’s toughest race through the Sahara Desert
Many people’s first time running a marathon is when they enter London’s iconic race, with streets lined with people cheering them on.
But James March’s first attempt will be slightly different when he takes on the brutal Marathon des Sables next month.
The 21-year-old will cover around 156 miles in six days over rugged terrain in the sweltering 50C heat of the Sahara Desert – all with a 10kg pack on his back.
James, who lives in Kettering, said: “I’ve never done anything at this level. I’m excited but also scared.
“If it was in the UK it wouldn’t be as difficult, but I know it will be difficult in this heat. The hardest part will be the mental side.”
The ultra-marathon has been called the toughest foot race in the world, with participants running through endless sand dunes, rocky jebels and white-hot salt plains.
They must carry on their backs what they need to survive with distributed water rations.
James flies to Marrakech next month, with the race due to start on March 27, although he is not looking to compete with the best of 1,000 competitors.
His first goal is to finish – and his mother is the inspiration he hopes will take him over the line. She has suffered from multiple sclerosis for several years and is now bedridden and has difficulty communicating.
About a year ago, James started researching cures and came across the charity Walkoncemore, which works with people with spinal cord injuries and helps fund the most important medical advances in cancer research. the cures.
He takes on the challenge of raising money for them and has so far raised over £6,000.
James, trainee financial adviser at Telford Mann in Kettering, said: ‘Mum’s condition is too advanced to benefit from any treatment, but I hope that by raising this money it will help families who may be affected. in the same way. “
Participants in the Marathon des Sables will face temperatures of up to 56°C during the day and low temperatures of -2°C at night. The fourth day of the event will be the most grueling stage, with competitors facing an 86km trek.
James, from Wolverhampton, is preparing for the event by working with his hometown university. He trains in their heat chamber, which can replicate conditions up to 40C, and has also hiked as he aims to finish the race with a 50/50 mix of running and walking.
It will carry packets of dehydrated foods such as chicken, noodles, and mac and cheese, as well as nutrient-rich macadamia nuts. His backpack will also contain granola and electrolyte powders, as well as the mandatory salt tablets due to the amount he will be sweating.
James added: “You look at the food and wonder how you’re going to survive for a week, but that goes a long way.
“The race is a bit wide. I can prepare for -2C quite easily at home but 50C is a bit different!”
You can also text JAM followed by a number to 70085 to give out that number. For example, JAM 10 gives £10.