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Six marathons in six days – at 50c

The heat is on for John Skelton who is in training for what has been described as “the toughest footrace on earth”.

Next month (April 9th to 15th) he  is taking part in six marathons in six days in temperatures of up to 50◦C in the gruelling Marathon de Sables event in the Sahara Desert.

Father-of-two John (48) has taken on the challenge to raise funds for Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance in memory of a work colleague who died after a road accident which the helicopter attended. The charity has been chosen as his employer’s Charity Partner of the Year.

John is a member of Sainsbury’s Property’s Engineering Team based at their Store Support Centre at Ansty Park on the outskirts of Coventry.

“I have been preparing for the event for over a year and am fitter now than I have ever been from a running point of view. It’s a harsh event and a harsh environment to be in so I am hoping that with luck and a fair wind I will be OK,” he says.

As part of his 14 hours a week training schedule John has been on a treadmill in a heat chamber at Gloucester University and run over 800 kilometres (500 miles) since the beginning of January.

He has taken part in half marathons, marathons, ultra-marathons and ironman events and still has many hours of training to complete with and without a 6 kg pack on his back.

As demanding as all this sounds it is nothing compared to what awaits John when he competes in the Marathon de Sables. According to the event website over the six days competitors will:

“… run over 250km (156 miles) through endless dunes, over rocky jebels, and across white-hot salt plains. The sun will be your constant enemy with temperatures regularly reaching 50 centigrade. The sand will be your constant companion, clouds of it under your feet, sheets of it stinging your eyes and lots of it chafing where it shouldn’t…Your feet will swell, crack and bleed under the pressure and the heat.”

If this wasn’t enough to cope with, runners have to carry their own food supplies and equipment and are given time penalties if they go over the daily water ration.

John doesn’t underestimate the challenge that faces him but he is determined to do the best he can.

“If people are generous enough to sponsor me to raise money for the air ambulance I feel as though it is my responsibility to put as much effort into preparing for and competing in the event as I can,” he says.

Jo Payne, national partnerships manager for the local air ambulance, said: “John’s commitment to raise funds for us is amazing – he really is going above and beyond to help a cause he feels strongly about. We’re very grateful for his support.”

Fancy having a go at one of our amazing fundraising challenges? Take a look at what’s planned for this year by clicking  here