Local property developer, Nick Keen is busy preparing to take on the Marathon des Sables this April; widely recognised as the toughest footrace on earth.
After first completing the event in 2012 (and promising himself he would never do it again!) he has decided to come back for another round in the Sahara, this time with a focus to raise funds for his local hospital through The Forever Friends Appeal’s RUH Cancer Care Campaign – which will help build a pioneering new cancer centre at the Royal United Hospital.
Nick will be tackling the 161 miles across the Sahara Desert over six days, including a massive 54 miles on day four, among other extraordinary competitors whilst carrying everything he needs to survive on his back (except water).
To get ready for this epic challenge, which is the equivalent of running five and a half full marathons, he has been training for six months alongside his regular running and motocross regime. Nick has already taken part in last October’s Snowdon Marathon and currently clocks up over 70 miles a week. During the final stages of training he will top up his runs with a 10kg back pack.
Nick explained, “I have Sarah Chard, the UK event organiser, to thank for talking me into taking on the MdS for a second time late one evening in the Brewery Inn in Seend!
“To justify the miles and miles of preparation for this extremely difficult and very sandy challenge, there is a method to my madness. We all know someone who has lost loved ones or have been affected in some way by cancer. Having been part of the local motocross world for many years, I am aware of the Hucklebridge family and the motocross community’s amazing support of the RUH Cancer Care Campaign.
“I can’t think of any better cause to support than the build of a state-of-the-art cancer centre at the hospital that will help transform the lives and care of so many local people in the future.”
The Marathon des Sables is a multi-stage adventure through the formidable landscape in one of the world’s most inhospitable climates, the Sahara Desert. Started in 1986 by Patrick Bauer, the race is now in its 28th consecutive year and continues to grow in popularity, attracting only the bravest of challenge seekers.
Under the scorching Moroccan sun life-long friendships are fostered through a shared experience of unforgettable days spent running across saltpans, up desert mountains, through ruined towns and through the occasional sand storm.
Marathon des Sables UK website gives a little taste of what participants, like Nick, will face: “Imagine yourself in the Sahara Desert with nothing but rolling sand dunes for miles around. 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.
“Today’s temperature is over 100 degrees fahrenheit (50 degrees centigrade). Part of your brain is screaming at you to stop, right now, to drop out of the race, but the other part of your brain is stronger. The other part of your brain knows that when you complete the final stage of the Marathon des Sables, you will have run the equivalent of five and a half marathons in five or six days, a total distance of some 161 miles.”
If you would like to sponsor Nick and support the RUH Cancer Care Campaign please visit his online fundraising page: www.justgiving.com/Nick-Keens-Les-Sables