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Charity runner from Lower Compton set for his toughest test
Dad John Astley is training for the “toughest run on earth” in a bid to raise money for children in Africa.
Mr Astley, a civilian worker for Wiltshire Police, will take part in the Marathon Des Sables in April.
He will be racing 145 miles across the Sahara over six days in aid of Facing Africa which helps children with Noma, a gangrenous disease in which the face, especially the mouth and cheek, is destroyed.
The charity, which is based in Seend, sends volunteer British doctors and surgeons to hospitals in Africa to help sufferers, most of whom are aged under six.
Mr Astley, 45, lives in Lower Compton near Calne, with his wife Maria. They have two daughters, Gemma, 25 and Charlie, 23.
He said: “I want to raise awareness of Noma and get funds to help UK medical teams go to Africa to give these children a better quality of life.”
Mr Astley said that the marathon, run in temperatures of up to 140F, would be an huge challenge.
He said: “The Marathon Des Sables is considered the toughest footrace on earth.
“Not only do you have to suffer trashed feet, blistering backs, intense heat dehydration and extreme fatigue, but you also have to carry everything you need for the six days.”
“For anyone who knows me it is obvious that I am no Olympic athlete, in fact I have only just completed my first few marathons, so it is an immense challenge.”
Mr Astley started training about two years ago by jogging and running.
Since then, he has successfully completed two Toughguy events with team mates from the Calne Comets Volleyball Club and has also taken part in the Swindon Half Marathon.
Last November he completed The Druids Challenge from Berkshire to Avebury, a total of 82 miles in three days.
He said: “I am no superhuman but I am completely committed to this venture, and do not intend to let anyone down. Therefore any sponsor, whether corporate for myself or personal for Facing Africa, will get nothing less than 100 per cent.”
To sponsor Mr Astley, visit www.saharamarathon.co.uk