An Ashville College sixth former has returned from the sweltering heat of the north African desert after successfully finishing two back to back marathons.
Alex Fennah was one of more than 150 ultra runners, and the youngest entrant, to take part in the grueling Saharan Challenge, which sees competitors aiming to complete two 42km races on two consecutive days.
With the mercury nudging 40 degrees Celsius – 104 Fahrenheit – the 17 year old from Harrogate finished the first race in sixth position in a time of 5hrs and 5mins, and the second, in eleventh, in a time of 6hrs and 10mins. Overall, he finished in a highly credible eighth place.
Alex said: ‘Despite the warmth, for the most part it was really enjoyable. I was running at a comfortable pace and it was a great experience. I was the youngest competitor by ten years and was running against plenty of experienced runners, including a nine time winner of the Marathon des Sables, which is a six-day, 251km ultramarathon.
‘However, with just 4km to go on the second day that changed when a blood vessel in my arm burst. After crossing the finish line, I was given medical treatment, and was told it was due to a combination of the heat, wind, and sand aggravating my skin.
‘I was really pleased with my finish times as I set myself a target of 5hrs for the first day and 6hrs for the second, so I was really close both times.’
Having completed this latest challenge, Alex is now focused on attempting the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a 172km run around the base of the mountain range.
‘You have to be 22 or older to enter this race, and my training starts now. In between, I’m hoping to run all of the ‘big five’ marathons – Boston, Berlin, Chicago, New York and London – within two years.’
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