Halton Squadron Leader set for world’s most gruelling race

Gareth Fretwell in action
Gareth Fretwell in action
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An RAF Squadron Leader based at Halton will take on nearly 1,000 runners in the searing heat of the Sahara Desert for one of the world’s most challenging multi-day running events.

Gareth Fretwell is ready to tackle the world famous Marathon Des Sables, simply known as MdS in Morocco.

The race was established in 1986 by Frenchman Patrick Bauer and is now in its 28th consecutive year and having earned the tag of the hardest desert race on the planet.

More than 300 British athletes will compete against an international field of endurance runners in temperatures approaching 50ºc across barren saltpans, desert mountains and giant sand dunes.

Taking place over six days and covering a distance of approximately 156 miles, the race requires all competitors to be self-sufficient and carry all their food and survival equipment in backpacks weighing up to 10kgs.

On the race ahead of him, the Bearbrook Running Club member said: “With daily race distances ranging between 20 and 50 miles in one of the world’s most inhospitable climates, I know that this epic race will be the hardest event I will ever expect to compete in.

“Yet even though I know the scale of what is ahead of me, the opportunity of toeing the start line with like-minded athletes in such a memorable undertaking is simply too great to resist and I can’t wait to get going.”

Fretwell has been taking part in ultra-marathons to prepare and will be raising money for Chronic Spinal Cord Injury research.