A runner from Daventry has started training for a 156-mile race across the desert sands of Morocco.
Chris Patterson, 32, who lives in Brampton Grange Drive on the Middlemore estate, is set to taken on the Marathon Des Sables in April next year.
The race is considered to be the world’s toughest foot race, and sees competitors doing the equivalent of six marathons over six days across the sand of the Sahara.
Mr Patterson said: “I’ve always liked running and I’ve done various half marathons.
“I decided to do the Race To The Stones this year, which is 62 miles in one day from near Thame to Avebury along the oldest path in Britain. I met Rory Coleman who’s done the Marathon Des Sables 11 or 12 times, he told me about it and I decided to use the Race To The Stones as a stepping stone.
“What attracted me is the challenge. It’s not just the distance – you’re running on sand which is far more tiring, there’s the extreme heat with temperatures of 40 to 50 Celsius, the possibility of sand storms. You have to run equipment. You even have to carry an antivenom injection in case you get stung by a scorpion.”
The Marathon Des Sables (Marathon of the Sands) is an ultramarathon with the 156 -mile distance broken down into stages, not all of equal length. In 2009 the longest stage was 57 miles.
Runners carry their own food, spare clothes, medical kit and a sleeping bag in case they cannot make the end of the stage. One stage includes a night section.
Although the course is marked, runners also carry maps and a compass for sections where the shifting sands prevents markers being used.
They do not carry water, which is rationed at checkpoints along the route.
Mr Patterson said: “I’m training with Rory, so that should be a big help. There’s plans to train on sand dunes, and to use a heat chamber as well.
“With it being such a big challenge, I wanted to use it to raise money for a charity. I’ve chosen Hope For Children.
“They work with children in the UK, Africa and Asia to help them reach their full potential. That can be paying for a child to go to school, or providing artificial limbs. Last year they helped 44,000 children.
“It’s a small charity so I know the money I raise will make a difference.
Mr Patterson has a fundraising goal of £8,000.
He has set up a online page for donations – mds2016.everydayhero.com/uk/ christopher-patterson – and is planning on organising a fundraising gig and other events in the coming months.