TWO athletes have braved scorching heat and scaled the highest dunes on Earth to become the first men in the world to run across South Africa’s Namib desert.
Andrew Murray and Donnie Campbell ran more than 313 miles in under nine days through energy-sapping sands in punishing temperatures of 35C.
The record-breaking odyssey from Luderitz to Walvis Bay saw them run an average of 30 miles (50km) a day and took them over 1300ft dunes, including the formidable “Devil’s Workshop”.
Andrew, a GP and physical activity advisor for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, admitted he found the challenge so gruelling that he contemplated giving up.
He said: “The Namib desert is, hands down, both the most spectacular and gruelling place I’ve run in. Every step through the sand was energy sapping, and my feet are destroyed with blisters. We were in hefty trouble even after two days, but our support team and the incredible views got us to the finish. There were times every day I felt like giving up.”
But Andrew, from Southside, added: “Both of us were totally wrecked at the finish but it was worth it.
“The desert is unique, with the highest sand dunes in the world, and parts of the desert haven’t even been driven through, never mind run.
“It was great to get a world first and to have been to a very special place where very few have been. This has never been run before in its entirety.”
The run brought them within tickling distance of deadly spiders, past the famed shipwrecks of the Skeleton Coast and through abandoned diamond mines.
Donnie, a 30-year-old running coach from Leith, called the challenge “tough” but a “great experience”.
He said: “I trained really hard to maximise my chance of success. Giving up is not in my vocabulary, quitting never entered my mind.
“The first couple of days were really tough going but after day four it started to get easier. From then on, I knew we were going to make it.”
The challenge was set three months ago by Scottish Expedition organiser David Scott, and has been supported by Lyprinol UK.
The duo started their expedition on February 2 and finished on Tuesday, exhausted and sunburnt – but triumphant.
No stranger to racing in extreme conditions, Andrew, who also works with the SportScotland Institute of Sport, has previously run 2659 miles from John O’Groats to the Sahara, as well as winning races at the North Pole, Antarctica and Outer Mongolia.
And Donnie, a former Royal Marine Commando, once ran 184 miles from Glasgow to Skye without sleeping.
After the run, the team shared medical and athletic equipment, and education with Chief Kooitjie and the local Topnaar Tribe of the Kuiseb river region, custodians of the Namib desert work supported by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Lyprinol, and Merrell UK.
The men thanked their sponsors and the joint Scottish, South African and Namibian safety teams for their support.