Bearsden man is oldest UK finisher of 250km desert charity trek

A Bearsden runner has raised thousands of pounds for charity after taking on a mega marathon challenge in the blistering heat of the Sahara desert.

Jim marathon in desert

At the age of 62, Jim McAneny, a life member of Garscube Harriers, also won the award as the oldest UK finisher of the 250km Marathon Des Sables in Morocco.

He took on the ultimate running test of six marathons in seven days to raise £2,000 and counting for the Brain Tumour Charity after a young friend’s dagnosis.

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Jim, who returned home last week, said: “I joined Garscube Harriers in 1972. As I have run plenty of marathons over the years but never an ultra marathon, I thought I'd do the toughest as I don't intend to do another!”

Jim spoke of how his time in the desert challenged him mentally as well as physically. At one point it came down to mere survival as a gastroenteritis bug swept through the camp during a heatwave.

Jim said: “The temperature in the Sahara reached an unbelievable 58 degrees as the bug swept through. In 15km of sand dunes, I quickly had to forget trying to get a high ranking and just survive to the end of each day.

"The main issues were staying hydrated without throwing up and keeping my body temperature and heart rate down. I lost over 5kg during the race and had to stop eating after the third day, surviving on wine gums and jelly babies at night.

"The Sahara wind blowing through the open camp each night cooled the water to allow rehydrating for the next day.

"There were various challenges, from the midday heat to mile after mile of the sand looking like glaring snow when lit by my head torch. I had to follow green neon glow stick markers for hours. The only high point was looking up at the myriad of stars and constellations free of city lights. Stunning.

"The course tested over various terrain and consisted of flat salt beds, sharp stony undulating hills, small dunes, wadi (ravine), large dunes, and the odd mountain rope climb thrown in for good measure.

"You could see the check points and finish lines miles before you actually reached them and they never seemed to get any closer.”