Jersey runner James Manners is to run six laps of St Ouen’s beach carrying a heavily laden rucksack – and that is going to be a walk in the park compared to the reason why he’s training – the Marathon des Sables.
The Marathon des Sables – or Marathon of the sands has been called the toughest footrace on earth. It is a multi-stage race through one of the world’s most inhospitable climates, the Sahara desert. Temperatures can rise to about 50 degrees Celsius, and runners will cover around 156 miles – the equivalent to six marathons in six days over uneven rocky ground and sand dunes. Add to that the fact that runners must carry on their backs everything they will need to survive – except water – and you can see what a big challenge it is.
Jersey runner James Manners is competing in this year’s race, starting April 4th – despite having a hamstring injury which has hampered his training for the past six weeks: ‘I enjoy long distance running, I did the Round the Rock ultra marathon in August, that was 48 miles, but this really is the ultimate challenge and will test me not just physically, but also mentally. Not only have I had an injury to cope with, but the recent weather hasn’t helped. To try to help me acclimatise to the conditions in the Sahara I am going to do some Bikram yoga which involves exercising in a hot and humid room.
‘I am running for Facing Africa, a charity which funds skilled volunteer surgeons to perform facial reconstructive surgery on children who have been the victims of Noma, an acute and ravaging infection affecting the face. This charity really changes lives and as I work for an African bank this seemed a natural choice.’
James is being sponsored by his employer, Standard Bank. Head of Marketing Claire Reid says: ‘All of James’ colleagues are behind him in this amazing physical challenge. To complete one marathon is a huge test of endurance, but to run more than six in such harsh conditions is gong to require great depths of stamina and mental resolve. We all wish him the best of luck for the race and in raising funds for Facing Africa.’
The Marathon des Sables takes place from the 4th to 14th April.
James will be attempting the six laps of St Ouen’s beach, which is around 23 miles on Saturday March 1st.
James has set up a Justgiving page, if you would like to support him in his challenge and donate to Facing Africa. https://www.justgiving.com/James-Manners