Joining the giants in their Saharan success

Sam Mitchell left with bivouac buddies Ben Peresson and Darren Welsh after the Marathon des Sables
Sam Mitchell left with bivouac buddies Ben Peresson and Darren Welsh after the Marathon des Sables
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Sam Mitchell from Mildenhall has successfully overcome one of the world’s toughest challenges crossing the Moroccan Sahara in soaring temperatures.

Naval trainee Sam has just returned from the Marathon des Sables in which hundreds of people take on a six day challenge to cross the Saharan desert carrying their food supplies along the way.

He is hoping to have raised around £3,000 for St Nicholas Hospice Care, Walking with the Wounded and the Britannia Association.

Sam, 25, is currently training as a naval officer at Dartmouth and completed the Saharan challenge in 36 hours coming 233rd.

He ran most of the 156 mile course over a six day period carrying his food supplies and then took part in an 11 hour charity event for Unicef afterwards.

He said: “The first day was a bit of a shock with the heat and one day the temperature got to 53 degrees.

“I wanted to run it but had to walk the final stage of each day. The sand got into your shoes and I had blisters and lost a toenail but you get used to the pain.

“I pulled a hamstring on the last 17 kilometres so was hobbling along on that day.

“I think my training helped me build a lot of stamina and endurance but the the Marathon des Sables is a learning game - it’s a big one.

“The body is amazing at recovery and I could feel myself getting fitter during the week.

“It was a great experience and loads of camaraderie with everyone helping each other out. There was a fantastic atmosphere at the start of the race and they played ACDC so there was a real party feel to it.”

The endurance race this year featured polar explorer and mountaineer Sir Ranulph Fiennes who raised £96,837 for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

At 71 he became the oldest person to complete the course.

Sir Ranulph has overcome two heart attacks, undergone a double heart bypass and a cancer operation, and has diabetes.

Sam, who is pictured here with his ‘bivouac buddies’ Ben and Darren, had support from the Mildenhall community with a fund-raiser staged at Mildenhall Cricket Club last Friday which is thought to have raised around £2,000.

To make a donation to support his endeavour go to Marathon des Sables challenge