A web designer from Peterborough is teaming up with renowned global explorer to take on the harsh challenges thrown up by the Sahara desert in the name of charity.
Darren Grigas (37) of Wisbech Road, Thorney, only ran his first marathon four months ago in Mablethorpe - now he is planning to run 150 miles across the tough and unforgiving African desert.
And Darren, who works for Access at Lynch Wood, and who has spent more time in front of a computer screen than out risking life and limb has even teamed up with famous explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes for the challenge.
Darren has embarked on a gruelling training regime designed to increase his strength and stamina to withstand the rigours of the desert.
He is taking part in the Marathon des Sables, which has been dubbed the toughest footrace on Earth.
He will be one of about 1,000 entrants from around the world racing six back to back marathons, a total of 156 miles, across the Sahara in heat topping 50 degrees centigrade each day, sand dunes up to 300 feet high and climbs as high as England’s loftiest peaks.
To make it tougher still he will have to carry 7kg to 9kg of kit and food as well as rationed water and essentials that include distress flares, medical kit for patching up blistered feet and an anti-venom pump in case of snakes or scorpions taking an interest.
He will also be running and sharing a tent with legendary explorer Sir Ranulph.
To prepare for the race, Darren has been running 50 to 70 miles per week, has three to four session in the gym each week doing high-intensity full body circuits and strength training.
He said: “It’s a massive challenge and finishing it at all is a challenge in itself as the drop rate is pretty high, but I will be pushing to actually race it rather than just complete it.
“I’m just too competitive with myself to take it easy. This is where the nerves kick in because the faster I try to go, the more chance I have of breaking myself.
“But the nervousness is greatly outweighed by the excitement and I’m going to try to enjoy every minute of it.”
He is also raising funds - £10,000 - and awareness for children’s brain tumour charity, Anna’s Hope.
He said: “I’m hoping my efforts can raise crucial funds and awareness for an amazing local charity, Anna’s Hope.
“I’m overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity of donations so far.”
Anna’s Hope founder Carole Hughes said “Darren is a remarkable person and I am amazed what he plans to do and I am so grateful that he has chosen to help our charity.
“Every penny he raises will go directly to helping children with brain tumours and will make a real difference. On behalf of Anna’s Hope I wish him the very best of luck.”