Ex-Northampton Saints player takes on 'toughest footrace on earth'

Bruce Donald
Bruce Donald

A former Northampton Saints rugby player is preparing to compete in the Marathon de Sables – often called the toughest footrace on earth.

Bruce Donald, who still lives in the county, will be jetting to Morocco in April for the six-day event, which sees competitors tackle a course of 150 miles across the Sahara Desert.

The gruelling adventure takes competitors through one of the world’s most inhospitable environments, through endless dunes, over rocky jebels and across white-hot sand plains.

Temperatures reach over 50 degrees centigrade, with the endless sand stinging eyes and chafing runners’ delicate areas.

However, there is also a further challenge – the runners have to be completely self-sufficient, carrying all their own food and equipment for the week on their backs.

Water is rationed, and if that ration is exceeded a time penalty is issued.

Bruce said: “The course changes every year, but always includes a long stage of 52 miles.

“Starting out in the Saharan morning, runners continue this run until dusk, then on into the night, not finishing until well into the next day.”

Despite its reputation as a difficult and gruelling race, there is never a shortage of runners – this year there are 1,296 entrants from around the world, with Bruce having bib number 761 and his friend Tom Dove number 762.

Bruce is fundraising for two local groups, The Travers Foundation, a volunteer-run charity which helps 13 to 30-year-olds living in Northamptonshire, Rutland or Leicestershire improve their skills in sports, the creative arts and the performing arts, and Ups ‘N’ Downs, which offers support and advice for families and individuals affected by Down’s Syndrome.

Terry Forsey, chairman of The Travers Foundation, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Bruce is sharing the sponsorship money for his gruelling Marathon Des Sables challenge between The Travers Foundation and Ups ‘n’ Downs.

“We wish him every success in this adventure, and have been following his training progress on Facebook and Twitter.”

For more information about Bruce’s extreme desert running challenge, please visit his Facebook page www.facebook.com/BrucesSaharaChallenge or follow him on Twitter @BrucePDonald.

For further information on the Travers Foundation visit www.travers-foundation.org.uk