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Runner to challenge desert

Friday, 15th November 2002.

AN AIRCRAFT engineer who only took up serious running seven years ago is preparing to run the "toughest foot race on Earth" in the Sahara Desert.

Ron Thomas, 58, of Turner Close, Haverhill, will cover 145 miles in six days -- including a 50-mile stage through the night -- followed by another 26 miles less than 24 hours later. Temperatures should reach 120F.

On top of that, he will have to carry everything in his backpack and cook his own food, with only water and tents provided by the organisers.

He has had to buy trainers two sizes bigger than normal to allow for his feet to swell.

Mr Thomas is taking part in the Marathon des Sables in aid of the Facing Africa NOMA charity, which works to help victims of an acute gangrenous infection of the face which disfigures thousands of children.

He has already raised about 5,000 for various charities through his running and hopes to raise as much sponsorship as possible for this one.

Now working for KLM and buzz at Stansted Airport, Mr Thomas spent 26 years in the RAF, but only took up running after moving to Haverhill in 1996 and becoming a founder member of Haverhill Running Club.

He enjoyed a running trip to China so much that he decided to join the 600 people on the Sahara run next April, and is currently training with Tony Brame, also of Haverhill Running Club.

"It is going to be gruelling, but I shall just be running at a steady pace. Most days will be 15 to 18 miles with 12 kilos on my back," said Mr Thomas.

"I probably will be one of the oldest people doing it, but everyone helps each other out.

"If I did not enjoy it I would have stopped long ago I was beaten by a 74-year-old Frenchman in China."

Anyone who wants to sponsor his effort can send cheques made payable to Facing Africa NOMA to him at 29 Turner Close, Haverhill, Suffolk CB9 7FZ.

Haverhill Weekly News

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