Hayfield woman completes gruelling desert marathons

Hayfield's Alice Morrison took part in the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara desert, raising over �6,500 for Mencap.

Hayfield's Alice Morrison took part in the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara desert, raising over �6,500 for Mencap.

For most people, taking part in a marathon like London is enough of a challenge.

But one Hayfield woman took it a step further, competing in the Marathon des Sables, the toughest foot race on earth, to raise money for the charity Mencap.

The event sees participants tackle six marathons in six days across the Sahara desert carrying all their own supplies.

And having completed the event and survived intact, apart from some nasty foot damage, Alice Morrison has raised over £6,500 for the charity.

Looking back on her epic adventure, she said: “The experience was really life changing. From starting the training in the beautiful hills of the Peak District with my running partner Naomi and Billy the running dog, to the last weekend’s frantic pre-race training in the dunes of Morocco, it has been an extraordinary journey and a fantastic challenge.

“The actual race was through the most magnificent and bleak landscapes. High sand dunes, stretching for miles, rocky ascents and descents and endless dry lake beds, baking under a boiling sun. The temperatures reached 50 degrees and it was relentless.

“On the longest stage, the 52-mile double marathon, I was on my legs for 21 hours and 12 minutes without stopping, except for a toilet break and to fill my water bottles.

“I walked through a sunset over the desert, all through a moonlit night and crossed the finish line as the sun rose over the hills. That arduous day encapsulated both the joy and the pain of the whole adventure.”

She added: “My lowest point was walking to the start line on the last day, preparing for the last marathon. My feet had 11 open blisters on them and were so heavily bandaged I could barely get my shoes on. I knew I would finish, but I didn’t know how I was going to be able to endure the suffering.

“But painkillers and adrenaline are a brilliant mixture, I started running and then I felt strong and totally free. That day, I felt like a true runner and when I saw the finish line, it was one of the best moments of my life.”

And not only did Alice complete such a tough challenge, she came within the top 50 per cent of women.

“I still can’t quite believe that I did it,” she said. “I was also delighted at how well I did - I came in at 666, hopefully that is not an unlucky omen!

“It has really changed my life in lots of ways as I now want to help other people enjoy running and running adventures, so have set up www.epicrunning.co.uk.

And if anyone out there is thinking of doing it, don’t hesitate, sign up and if you want any information, please get in touch by emailing alice@epicmorocco.co.uk.”




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