‘Toughest footrace on earth’ trial for Fran

Marathon des sables runner Fran King NNL-150325-093112001
Marathon des sables runner Fran King NNL-150325-093112001

One of the most gruelling races on earth will be the next challenge for a part-time firefighter from Hook Norton.

Fran King will be taking on the hardest physical challenge she has ever attempted when she starts the Marathon Des Sables in April.

The six day race – around a marathon a day – will take place in temperatures of between 40 and 50 degC across the sand and rocky terrain of the Sahara.

It is ranked as the toughest footrace on earth by the Discovery Channel.

Miss King lands in Morocco on April 3 and during the race, will have to carry a full backpack containing food for six days, a stove for cooking, sleeping bag, torch for the night stage, sun cream, a venom pump, compass, emergency flare, warmer layers for the cold desert nights and water rations which will be provided at each checkpoint. The backpack will weigh nine kilograms.

She will be raising money for three charities – The Fire Fighters Charity, Bladder Cancer Support and Pancreatic Cancer Research.

She chose the Fire Fighters Charity because of the rehab support and exercise programme she received from them three years ago following an operation on her knee while the other two charities are the choice of two of her friends in the village, Stuart Willis and Mike Everitt, who have had need of their services.

The veterinary nurse at Hook Norton Vets said she was still preparing for the race.

She said: “I love travelling and Morocco – and decided to attempt it.

“It has come around extremely fast. I thought this would be a good challenge and thought it would be a good idea to raise money for charity.

“Unless you go to areas with sand dunes it can be difficult to train. I did a marathon in Northumberland, some of which was on the beach.

“Slipping and sliding through the mud in the wet helps as well as it is not a stable surface to run on.

“There is a lot of last minute packing to do. You have to carry all your food as well and you need to make it as light as possible, but you have got to have a minimum of 2,000 calories a day.

“I will be taking some freeze dried food which just needs boiling water to be added to it.

“I am also taking some running gels and bars and food powders and little snacks to keep me going for longer.” This is not the first challenge for Miss King as few years ago, she cycled around Africa for a 
year.

To sponsor Miss King, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/FranKing.

You can also support her during the event by visiting www.marathondessables.com and pick the section ‘write to competitors’.

The service will be available from April 4 to 10 and only messages with the surname, first name and race ID number (0356) will be transferred.

Attachments should not be sent as it will result in the cancellation of the email.