Richard races across the Sahara at a scorching pace

PUBLISHED: 06:41 20 April 2015

Richard Page competing in 2015's Marathon des Sables.

Richard Page competing in 2015's Marathon des Sables.

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A former Sidmouth College head boy says he is ‘over the moon’ after finishing among the top 10 per cent of runners in a week-long endurance race across the scorching Sahara Desert.

Richard Page, with his mum, Jenny, after completing the Marathon des Sables.Richard Page, with his mum, Jenny, after completing the Marathon des Sables.

Richard Page, 30, returned home this week with his head held high after completing the 156-mile Marathon de Sables in 131st place – and raising more than £5,500 for charity in the process.

The trek across southern Morocco, which is known by endurance runners as the toughest foot race in the world, saw some 1,300 competitors take on distances between 10 and 51 miles each day - in blistering temperatures of more than 50 degrees.

History teacher Richard took on the challenge as a way to test himself, as well as raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

His original aim had been just to complete the race in a respectable time, but his plan changed after he found out he was ranked among the top 200 competitors after the second day.

The gruelling fourth stage challenges runners to cover 51 miles, which they can choose to either tackle over two days or push through in one, giving them the opportunity for a rest period.

Richard opted to cover the distance in a single day, which meant he was running through the desert for more than 14 hours.

He said that life in the Sahara took some getting used to, subsisting on a diet of dried food, energy gels and the occasional peanut butter sachet - with temperatures reaching up to 51 degrees in the day, then plunging to a chilly five degrees at night.

Richard said: “I thought it would be more sandy, but I’d describe it as more dusty.

“It just gets everywhere.

“By the end of the week, you just accept that every mouthful you take is going to be fairly crunchy.”

He started the final day in 141st place, setting off with the elite top-200 group.

And despite spending all week in the desert, Richard still managed to record a time of four-and-a-half hours for the final 26-mile leg.

He said: “My final position was way higher than I ever anticipated.

“I’m over the moon with my result.”

Richard’s efforts have raised £5,500 for the MS Society. His mum, Jenny, who was head of maths at Sidmouth College, suffers from the illness.

He is still collecting for the charity.

To donate, visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/MdS2015-RichardPage.


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