A SCOT who had only been running for six months decided, on a whim, to enter the ‘toughest footrace on the planet’ – enduring 257km of sand, dunes, mountains and soaring heat in the Sahara Desert.
Chris Mackinnon has just returned from competing – and more importantly completing – Le Marathon des Sables, and raising a staggering £5,500 for the Highland Hospice Charity.
And Chris, who lives in Glenferness, north of Nairn, isn’t going to be resting for long, as he will soon be competing in two more endurance races in the space of five days.
The 43-year-old said: “Previously prior to my acceptance to the event in May 2015 I had only been running for approximately six months.
“I had read about the event in an article and I was getting on quite well with my running at the time and just thought I would give it a go.
“I researched the race and understood it was classed as the toughest desert race on the planet so spent a year training to just make the start line.”
Describing his completing the race earlier in April, he said: “The event was extremely difficult, day after day competitors were dropping out due to injury and dehydration.
“Crossing dunes and mountains the hight of Scottish Munro’s just broke people’s spirit.
“Every day was tough. The first three days, which were just short of a marathon a day, went well.
“Day four and five was a single stage and involved a 53-mile back-to-back double marathon of the most intimidating of environments, dunes, mountains, hills – and temperatures reached in excess of 45C through the hottest time of the day.
“Now this is tough on its own, but with no washing, toilet or feeding facilities, plus carrying everything you need – sleeping equipment, survival equipment and food all weighing about 10kg – and then having to ‘run’?”
Chris, who has worked in the oil and gas industry for the last 13 years, said taking part in the gruelling event had originally been ‘a personal venture’.
He added: “I was not going down the charity route as I raise good funds with my team who enter the Highland Cross Charity event in the Highlands.
“But as time wore on it was too good an opportunity to pass by. I know what work the Highland Hospice do and many years ago I had good friends whose father was cared for by the hospice.
“The care they have for people is quite something.”
After a week’s recovery, Chris is heading off to Belfast on Monday for the ‘Belfast City Marathon’, and then onto the ‘Kintyre Way Ultra Marathon’ which is a 35-mile event, five days later.
People wishing to donate to can find details about Chris on his JustGiving page online - https://www.justgiving.com/Chris-Mackinnon-Glenferness