Richard gears up to take on ‘world’s toughest race’

Richard Page who is preparing to take on the Marathon des Sables - 'or marathon of the sands'

Richard Page who is preparing to take on the Marathon des Sables - 'or marathon of the sands' - Credit: Archant

A former Sidmouth College head boy is preparing to take on a gruelling endurance race which will see him cover the equivalent of the entire M5 motorway – in temperatures of up to 50 degrees.

Richard with his mum, Jenny

Richard with his mum, Jenny - Credit: Archant

Richard Page is training for the Marathon des Sables – a week-long, 156-mile trek across southern Morocco’s scorching Sahara Desert.

The 29-year-old is taking on the challenge to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, a charity close to his heart as his mum, Jenny, who was head of maths at Sidmouth College, suffers from the illness.

He said: “I like challenges and I like to see physically what I’m capable of pushing myself to do.

“I do quite a lot of endurance racing so I don’t feel nervous about it - this is always something that I wanted to give a go.”

Each stage of the seven-day-long race, known by endurance runners as the toughest footrace in the world, sees competitors tackle distances between 10 and 25 miles over terrain including sand dunes, salt flats and rock-strewn plateaus.

On day four, entrants can choose to push themselves and cover 51 miles - the equivalent of two marathons - then take day five to rest up for the final two legs.

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History teacher Richard, who turns 30 the day before he flies out to the start line in April, will have to carry around eight kilos of kit on his back - including a sleeping bag and a week’s worth of food - as well as one-and-a-half litres of water for each stage.

He said: “My plan at the moment is just trying to get myself as fit as possible, and lose a bit of weight to be as lean as I can.”

His training runs see him wear extra layers of clothing to simulate the sweltering heat of the Sahara, where the temperatures can range from a blistering 50 degrees in the day to a chilly five degrees once the sun goes down.

The runners are supported by a team who carry their bulky kit, including the temporary shelters they will sleep in each night.

Richard added: “The running joke is that if the camels overtake you then you’re out!”

Richard’s mum, Jenny, who lives in Newton Poppleford, admitted she thought her son ‘was a bit mad’ when she heard he was thinking about entering the event.

“Then he said he had entered it and that he was doing it for MS, and it sort of took all the wind out of my sails,” she added. “I’m chuffed to bits for him that he is going to do something like that.”

Richard has already raised more than £1,200 for the charity.

To donate to his efforts, visit