Lowestoft man set to take on marathon challenge across the Sahara Desert

Mark Nussey from Blundeston will soon take on his toughest challenge yet.

Mark Nussey from Blundeston will soon take on his toughest challenge yet. - Credit: Nick Butcher

An inspirational fundraiser will soon embark on one of the toughest footraces on earth which will see him run the equivalent of six marathon distances in seven days out in the Sahara Desert.

Mark Nussey, 45, lives in Blundeston but works as a fitness consultant and sports massage therapist in Lowestoft. He has already run three London Marathons and trekked across Northern Scandinavia, braving Arctic temperatures in 2011.

But now, to continue his dedicated charity work, Mr Nussey will experience temperatures of up to 50C to raise funds for the Mencap disability charity.

On April 3, he will be jetting off to Morocco with 329 other UK/Ireland athletes to be a part of the 1,300-strong field competing in the 30th Marathon des Sables.

To make it even tougher for the competitors, the race is deemed as self-sufficient. This means that for the duration of the race all competitors have to carry their own food, kit and bedding.

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Mr Nussey, who has trained for two years in preparation for the challenge, said: 'The only support in the desert will be the checkpoint and the end of stage tents. The mental strain on a race like this, with the intense heat and nothing but sand and dust for mile upon mile, cannot be underestimated.

'It is not unusual for competitors to hallucinate whilst running and many are withdrawn due to dehydration.'

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There are six contested stages consisting of anything from 10km to 42km apart from day four, which is called the longest day. The competitors have until the evening of day five to complete the 80km stage.

The only provisions provided by the organisers are a shelter at the end of each stage and rationed water at each checkpoint, limited in total to 12 litres per day.

Mr Nussey is completing the challenge by attempting to raise £10,000 for Mencap, a charity close to his heart.

His stepdaughter Ella, who is 21, was born with Downs Syndrome and has been supported by Mencap through her life.

This event has recently been in the national press as Sir Ranulph Fiennes is taking part to become the oldest Briton to complete this race.

Mr Nussey has been to the heat chamber at Silverstone for heat analysis and been tested by Cambridge University for a study around the impact of nutrition and training and race performance on endurance athletes participating in the challenge.

To sponsor Mr Nussey visit his JustGiving page, www.justgiving.com/Mark-Nussey or email mark.nussey@btinternet.com

Alternatively call 07973 511250.

For further information on the Marathon de Sables, visit www.marathondessables.co.uk

Are you doing something for charity? Tell The Journal by calling 01502 525825 or email lowestoft.journal@archant.co.uk

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