Paul Skipworth tackles seven-day Sahara desert ultramarathon

Paul Skipworth is preparing for the searing heat of the Sahara. Picture: contributed
Paul Skipworth is preparing for the searing heat of the Sahara. Picture: contributed
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HE has undertaken gruelling training sessions in the Pentland Hills ahead of what will be one of his toughest challenges yet.

But Paul Skipworth, 48, from Murrayfield, is nothing but excited about jetting off to the Sahara desert for a seven-day, 155-mile footrace – despite having to carry everything he will need on his back.

He said: “I love being in amazing places, pushing myself and most of all meeting really interesting people.

“Behind the different ages, nationalities, and jobs of the competitors, there is a strong common theme running through most of them.”

From running ultramarathons in Antarctica to the Gobi desert, Paul is no stranger to exposing himself to some of nature’s harshest landscapes.

His latest trek is to raise money for Overcoming MS after his wife, Harriet, was diagnosed with the condition in 2013 and sought help through the charity. It promotes an evidence-based lifestyle programme of diet, exercise stress management and supplementation to help control, manage and improve symptoms of the disease, which affects the body’s central nervous system.

On May 1, he will take on the arid landscape of the Namib Desert, running the equivalent of a marathon – 26 miles – in temperatures of up to 35C. If that was not enough, he must also carry everything he needs for the seven-day race.

To get ready, Mr Skipworth has been a regular in the Pentlands, with his hefty backpack full of “survival” items, such as a sleeping bag, red flash light, Swiss Army knife, survival bivvy bag, clothes, hydration system, and a seven-day food supply.

Overcoming MS CEO, Gary McMahon, said: “We are truly grateful for Paul’s efforts, which are not just testimony to his mental and physical ability, but also a tribute to his wife, who is overcoming MS.

“Because we do not accept funding or support from pharmaceuticals and other third party companies, we rely on the efforts and generosity of people like Paul to make a life-changing difference to those with MS.”

Mr Skipworth started taking part in endurance events in the late 1990s after completing the Marathon des Sables in Morocco. Since then, he has competed in events in the Hong Kong New Territories, Iceland, Jordon, Madagascar, as well as the Gobi, Sahara, Atacama and Antarctica deserts.

He said: “I am really looking forward to it and keen to see the spectacular Skeleton Coast.”

Mr Skipworth has raised more than £3000 through his Justgiving page.