A CHESTER dad braved sweltering heat and brutal desert terrain to complete the ‘toughest race on Earth’ and raise money for charity.
Martin Wilcock from Boughton trained for almost a year to take part in the gruelling Marathon des Sables challenge, a race that is equivalent to five-and-a-half regular marathons, across the Sahara desert in just six days.
During his time in the desert Martin suffered excruciating cramps, horrific dehydration and nearly put himself into a coma, but last week returned home triumphant having raised £2,000 for Facing Africa.
The charity funds teams of voluntary surgeons from the UK, Germany and Holland to travel to Nigeria and Ethiopia to perform facial reconstruction surgery on the victims of Noma disease.
The father-of-three competed among 1,000 other runners, including world-class sprinters, and nearly burned himself out before recovering just in time to join the elite runners on day four – finishing in the top 20.
“I am just so pleased to have made it back alive really,” said Martin, 37, a software engineer at Intetech in Rowton.
“The second day was a sweltering 57 degrees and I was almost paralysed with cramp.
“I was in a state for hours but luckily managed to turn it round and I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve had.
“Each night I’d read pages and pages of emails from my family which was lovely and really helped me.”
He added: “It was an incredible privilege and honour to race shoulder to shoulder with some of the world’s greatest ever distance runners, in one of the worlds most iconic, and toughest, foot races.
“It was a dream come true for me.”
You can still donate to Martin’s fund by visiting www.saharamarathon.co.uk.