NOT even scorching temperatures and 150 miles of brutal terrain could stop Devizes resident Mark Spandler from completing one of the toughest foot races on the planet.
Mr Spandler, of Horton, took on the Marathon Des Sables, a multi-day race across the Sahara Desert, and came 93rd overall from around 1,200 competitors, from 52 countries.
And what made the exhausting event all the more worthwhile for the 46-year-old, was the fact that he raised more than £3,500 in aid of Julia's House - £500 more than his original target and the donations are still coming in.
"It was the most extraordinary event and an incredible experience. It was a punishing event but to make it into the top 100 and to raise that much for a great cause is a wonderful feeling," said Mr Spandler, who used to in the county rifles regiment as part of a 16-year career in the army.
"It is ranked by the Discovery Channel as the toughest footrace on earth. There were times when you feel like you cannot go on when it is 50 degrees centigrade heat and one stage is 90km long, but the army helps with your mental resilience as did the desire to help Julia's House.
"My strategy was to run on the flat and downhill and then have a brisk walk up the hills and sand dunes. My aim was to come in the top 200 so I smashed my expectations."
Mr Spandler, who ran the Bournemouth marathon, the Chippenham half marathon and a 50k ultra marathon in preparation for the event, had to run for each of the six days with a rucksack that weighed no less than 6.5kg.
"You do not want to carry too much but you also cannot afford to pack too light as you can be in trouble then," he said.
"For breakfast I had oats, for lunch I had dried fruits and various healthy foods and for dinner I had a protein bar and a chicken curry. At night the temperatures would plummet and you would wake up in the night to put more layers on which you do not expect when you are in the desert.
"My family and friends are very proud of me for doing it. I was thinking of them as I was running through the desert. I will have a bit of a break now but I will look to do something like this again in the future for sure."
To donate visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Mark-Spandler?utm_medium=email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=20170418_96877