A member of staff completed a 152 mile marathon in the Sahara desert!

A member of Bangor University staff successfully finished “the toughest foot race on earth” in the Sahara desert in April.

Alan at the finishing line Alan at the finishing line Alan Edwards, from Caernarfon, Head of International Student Services at Bangor University, has just arrived back from Morocco where he finished the 150 mile Marathon Des Sables. He crossed the finish line in 198th position out of 849 competitors. He was a massively impressive 74th position in his age category and raised almost £4,000 for Mencap.

Alan, who is originally from Bala, said: “Finishing the race was such an amazing feeling and very emotional. After two years of preparing and training, it felt very odd to have the whole thing over and done with and to have the medal round my neck on the finishing line was an overwhelming experience.

"The hardest part was the running the 52 mile section. I had never run such a distance before and the temperature had reached 48 degrees that day. I really struggled after reaching the 40 mile check point but I managed to carry on…even though I very nearly gave up!

"During the whole race, the hardest thing was running in sand which caused blisters – the race went through the highest sand dunes in Morocco. It was also difficult to control what to eat and drink.”

Throughout the race, Alan had to be completely self sufficient for the whole 6 days, which meant carrying everything he needed in a rucksack. He was carrying food, water, cooking equipment, sleeping stuff, clothes and a first aid kit (which included an anti-venom pump just in case he was bitten by a scorpion or snake!)

The only assistance the runners received was to set up a tent at the end of every day and there was also emergency medical services on hand just in case.

Alan added: “It was a lot harder than I expected but a much better experience that I expected also. I made friends and competitors supported each other. It was an experience that I will remember forever and the main thing that I learnt was that I have the mental power to put myself through something that was torture at times.

 “My advice to anyone considering running this race would be Don’t Do It! No…just train and make sure that you are running at least 40 miles at a time. After that, take each mile individually and do not think of the race in its entirety (152 miles) or it can all get on top of you mentally! It is also essential that you get enough advice about what to eat."

With his daughter, Cara only 4 months old, finding time to train was not always easy and Alan is now looking forward to spending more time with his family.

As for any future challenges, he said: “ I have promised my wife, Bethan, that I am not going to do anything as extreme for a while…..but there is a race in the Alps in August 2012 (101 miles in 46 hours) that I’m quite keen to do!”

If you wish to sponsor Alan please e-mail alanbala37@hotmail..com

Publication date: 10 May 2011