Former Royal Marine completes the ‘toughest race on Earth’

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Following a week of ultra-running through the scorching temperatures of the Sahara Desert, Lee Hurford has completed the ‘toughest race on Earth’.

And after crossing the finish line of the Marathon des Sables, Lee - a former Royal Marine - was quick to admit: “I won’t be going back.”

For many years it has been the Bostonian’s ambition to complete the race - which consists of punishing yourself on foot for 240km (149 miles) through the Moroccan desert in temperatures of up to 100F.

And to make things even more energy-sapping, runners have to carry their provisions on their back.

“I feel OK now, but it is the first time in my life where I have eaten and not put weight on in the last week,” 41 -year-old Lee told The Standard.

“I lost around 7kg during the race and once I finished racing my body just felt weak.

“I have lost over 20kg from when I started training for the race back in November.

“It was not tougher than I expected, but it lived up to my expectations and I won’t be going back.

“The heat and sand was fine for me overall, but the rocky mountains really do rip your feet when you are more than 14 stone.”

The race is split into six stages. The shortest being a 34km (21 mile) run, while the penultimate day is a double challenge where competitors are subjected to an 81.5k (50 mile) run.

But undeterred, Lee completed the 240k course in a total of 33 hours 57 minutes and 46 seconds, enough to be placed 118 out of more than 1,000 entrants.

“The highlight was day one, coming in at number 58. After day two I was 55th,” Lee continued. “The low point was at checkpoint three on the double marathon day.

“It was very hot and we had already climbed two big mountains. On 1.5 litres of water I was struggling.

“I ran out of water and had to walk to save my energy because I was really having to concentrate and not dehydrate before I reached the checkpoint.

“Once I did there were many people in a bad way. So I just had to stay strong, rest and make sure I was ready to push on again.

“I still had another marathon to go, but I felt really strong at the end of the day and ran the last 10k in good time.

“My time for the stage was around 13 hours of running.”

Hurford was running to raise cash for the Matt Hampson Foundation, which supports young people seriously injured in sport.

He is hoping to raise £10,000 and currently has £3,400 in the coffers.

Lee is now putting his energies into his latest venture - a boxing academy in Dubai, where he now lives.

However, he is refusing to rule out taking on an ‘iron man’ challenge one day.

If you wish to sponsor Lee for his effort you can log on to