Daventry runner finishes desert race

Chris Patterson running through the Sahara during the Marathon des Sables.
Chris Patterson running through the Sahara during the Marathon des Sables.
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A man from Daventry has overcome heat, dehydration, and terrible blisters to complete a 150-mile race over the Sahara.

Chris Patterson, who lives in Daventry, has recently returned from completing the Marathon des Sables (the MDS), known as ‘the toughest footrace on earth’.

The MDS is an ‘ultra-marathon’ run in six days over a course of between 150 and 156 miles in the Sahara desert with temperatures reaching over 50 degrees. Day four is particularly challenging, covering double the distance of other days and including an 18 mile stretch climbing the equivalent of four times the height of Snowdon.

The runners have to carry everything that they need, including food, for the six days, except for water which is rationed and handed out at checkpoints. Each night they sleep eight to a tent.

Despite a careful and meticulous training regime over the previous 18 months, Chris lost a stone in weight, most of his toenails fell off, got blisters on every toe and one on his ankle which went through to the bone and got infected. These injuries were relatively minor; in his tent one participant sustained a broken ankle and another ended up on a drip – both still finished the race.

Chris finished 269th out of 1,200 competitors who started. He raised around £9,500 for Hope for Children, a charity that works globally to improve the lives of children and families.

Chris said: “I have enormous gratitude to my employer Stepnells for its support and tolerance when I sustained sundry injuries in preparation for and after the race. I also owe thanks to colleagues at Stepnell for all the fundraising activities organised and the donations from staff. I should also like to thank the Training Shed in Daventry, my personal trainer Jordan Taylor and Rory Coleman for training support, advice and encouragement. Finally, a big thank you to my friends and family for their backing and donations and last, but definitely not least to my partner, Gabi, for her unremitting support, expert nutritional guidance and, sometimes, when she thought it necessary, robust, incitement to continue.

“It is without doubt the most challenging and rewarding enterprise I have ever undertaken: tough; requiring physical and mental stamina beyond imagination, and has led to the forging of new friendships based on that shared experience.”