Twelve months ago, Thomas Challener was seriously out of shape.
A horrific car accident had scuppered the once promising rower’s dreams and his weight had ballooned to unhealthy levels.
“I needed a challenge as I was really overweight,” said the 26-year-old, who lives with his girlfriend, Charlotte Beard, in Plough Lane.
“I had to try to get into shape. I had to have something that focused my mind.”
Thomas was on a rowing scholarship at Loughborough University until a car crash in 2008 left him requiring reconstructive surgery to his face.
Subsequent attempts to get back into sport resulted in injury and it was not until August that he really started to get his life back on track.
The decision to run the Marathon Des Sables – a six-day 150-mile run across the Sahara desert in Morocco – was the turning point, and Thomas has since lost six stone.
“I always wanted to become an athlete and, in a way, training for this has allowed me to do that,” he said.
Thomas will face temperatures of up to 40 degrees in the marathon, which takes place from April 6 to 12.
He has already completed numerous races to prepare, including a 44-mile run, which he finished in seven hours and 20 minutes last month.
“The heat is the unknown,” said Thomas. “I know I can run the miles.”
He is running for Yorkshire Cancer Research in honour of Charlotte’s father, who died from the illness around 10 years ago.
Thomas needs to raise £6,000 for the run, having already put £3,500 towards the challenge himself.
To sponsor him, go to www.justgiving/thomas-challener.