Andrew’s ‘brutal’ Sahara Desert slog boosts Strathcarron funds

Just champion - Andrew, pictured right, was delighted to be congratulated in person by Marathon des Sables founder and director Paul Bauer
Just champion - Andrew, pictured right, was delighted to be congratulated in person by Marathon des Sables founder and director Paul Bauer

It was the adventure of a lifetime for Dunipace man Andrew Sneddon, a super-fit 56-year-old determined to do something really special to help his favourite cause.

Called the Marathon des Sables, the race is a multi-stage six-day trek through the Sahara Desert, and is absolutely not for the faint-hearted.

This picture of another runner (not Andrew) gives an idea of the vastness of the desert - and the rugged terrain.

This picture of another runner (not Andrew) gives an idea of the vastness of the desert - and the rugged terrain.

Andrew, now safely back home with a stunning lifetime achievement under his belt, says he had been building towards the event since 2012, but still found the desert ordeal in a different league from anything he’s undertaken before.

“There is only one word for it and that is ‘brutal’, he said.

“The route involved crossing some of the highest dunes in the world, and at one point we were caught in a full scale sandstorm.

“Then there were the nights - they were bone-chillingly cold, and we were sleeping in very basic tents that offered little protection. I think I must have averaged about four hours sleep a night.”

But at the same time he says this ultimate test of endurance had one great redeeming feature.

“The desert is the most beautiful thing you can imagine. That was the contrast with the trek - the sheer wonder of being in such an extraordinary, amazing place.”

Another consolation was that far from being cut off from his anxious family he was able to keep in touch at least once a day by email, so his wife Sharon and daughter Alyssa knew he was fit and coping with the strain.

His workmates at Versalis and other friends were able to track his progress digitally too.

Now, as he ponders some new challenge, he has no regrets about having taken part - and won - in an adventure which reads like something out of Lawrence of Arabia or Beau Geste.

“I want to thank everyone who rooted for me every step of the way,” said Andrew, “and I’m delighted that with their support I have raised more than £1100 for Strathcarron Hospice”.

We’ll have more detail on Andrew’s incredible desert exploit in a forthcoming issue of the Falkirk Herald.