Hadleigh dad survives world’s toughest race across Sahara

Lee Sands has completed the world's toughest foot race the Marathon Des Sables. ANL-150428-162034009
Lee Sands has completed the world's toughest foot race the Marathon Des Sables. ANL-150428-162034009

A father-of-three from Hadleigh has completed the world’s toughest foot race involving six marathons across the Sahara desert.

Lee Sands faced peak temperatures of 53 degrees, sand dunes and uphill climbs the size of Mount Snowden when he took on the Marathon des Sables earlier this month.

The 44-year-old undertook a year’s worth of training and fundraising for children’s charity NSPCC to reach his target of £8,000.

“I had heard a lot about it being the hardest foot race in the world – as soon as I heard that, I was drawn to it,” said Lee, talking about his decision to sign-up a year ago.

He said his wife Verity and three children, Millie, 11, Gracie, nine, and Darcy, six, were committed to helping Lee reach his fundraising total.

On April 3, Lee’s year of training – which involved running around 80 miles a week – was over, as he boarded a plane to south Morocco to begin the race on Easter Sunday.

Looking back, Lee said mental attitude played a decisive part in the challenge.

“It never entered my mind that I wouldn’t finish it,” he said. “I had that mindset and it never changed. I didn’t want to let people down.

“I dread to think if I hadn’t finished it – I’m the sort of person who would havehad to do it again.”

On the fourth day, which Lee described as the toughest, participants had to run through the day and night to cover a distance equivalent to almost two marathons.

“I think that was the bit that really defines it as one of the toughest foot races in the world,” he said.

Overall, Lee said it was a fantastic experience to witness the scenery and enjoy the camaraderie with his fellow runners.

To donate to Lee’s fundraising total, go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/leesands.