'Marathon Man' aims to go the distance in epic Sahara challenge

A RUNNER is set to show superhuman strength when he tackles six marathons across the Sahara Desert in just six days.

Cranston Watts, 27, from Morningside, who is better known as "Marathon Man", is gearing up to run the 250km Marathon des Sable challenge – touted as the toughest trek on Earth. It will see him run 26 miles per day in soaring temperatures of up to 50C, carrying a rucksack on his back that contains all the food and essentials he needs for the six-day endurance test.

Mr Watts – also known as "Cranny" – said his friends had dubbed him a "fool" for taking on the run, which he described as being the equivalent of "a treadmill in a sauna".

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, he is keen to go the distance in the name of local charity Scottish Love in Action, which funds the building of schools and children's homes in India.

He said: "I've been in training for the last 18 months or so, running into work every day and then back again in the evening. I'm doing 60 to 70 miles a week at the moment.

"Some of my friends think I'm a fool, but it's a fantastic challenge and for a good cause.

"At Christmas time I was out running in the snow in the Pentlands which, in a way, was good training for the sand in the Sahara because they are a similar feel."

"The event is 25 years old this year and they've added a few kilometres to make it exactly 250km long.

"It was started by someone in the French Foreign Legion as an endurance test and we have all been issued with a legion-style cap with a sun flap at the back."

Although the keen sportsman, who today flies out to Morocco and will begin the race on 4 April, has completed marathons in the past, he said this latest event would be the "pinnacle of my running career".

He said: "I think all runners consider doing something like this, but there's no doubting it'll be tough. On the third day I have a 26-mile run across sand dunes then, after a sleep, I face a 48-mile trek the next day.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I'll have to drink 11-and-a-half litres of water every day. One of the biggest hazards is allowing even a few grains of sand into your shoes. They can cause what they call 'foot trauma' as they rub away at your skin."

Mr Watts first ran the Edinburgh Marathon in 2003, and he went on to complete the 26-mile race again the following year – dressed as a chicken.

He is hoping that his latest extreme test will raise 5,000 for SLA in India. So far he has collected 1,200.

He added: "It's going to be a huge challenge for me personally but it will have a wider significance if it raises awareness of the plight of children in India and raises some money for their education. I'm determined to see it through to the end."