Retired soldier on the run in the desert for the Marathon des Sables

A RETIRED soldier is embarking on his toughest mission yet; two gruelling marathons in the space of three weeks. Mal Smith, 57, will be flying out to Egypt to complete the Marathon des Sables, which starts on April 4. On his return to Britain he will be t

A RETIRED soldier is embarking on his toughest mission yet; two gruelling marathons in the space of three weeks.

Mal Smith, 57, will be flying out to Egypt to complete the Marathon des Sables, which starts on April 4. On his return to Britain he will be taking to the track again for the Virgin London Marathon on April 25.

Mr Smith, of Cheyney Street, Steeple Morden, is running on behalf of the forces charity Help for Heroes.

He said: "The Marathon des Sables course is 150 miles across the Egyptian desert and you complete it in six stages over seven days. You have to carry all your equipment with you, and you're running on sand all the time so it's a very tough course.


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"I'll be 58 when I do the race, so I think it will be my last really big run. Then when I come back I'll be doing London, as long as my body is still in one piece."

The former Royal Engineer has competed in the last ten London races, as well as taking part in marathons as far afield as Hawaii.

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He hopes to raise �1,000 for Help for Heroes, a charity which is close to his heart.

"I was in the army for 22 years up to 1992," he said. "I can't hope to understand the pain that these injured serving members are going through, both physically and mentally, and the pain the parents, wives, husbands and relations are feeling when they are told that their son or daughter has just been killed.

"What I can do though is to try to make a difference with the money that I raise, hoping that in someway it has helped to ease some of the pain."

With just over six weeks to go until the start of the event, Mr Smith has been stepping up his training accordingly.

"I've been doing my normal training, which involves running 35 - 40 miles a week, as well as the occasional 'ultra' - such as running 66 miles over a couple of days - to build stamina," he said.

"I feel I'm prepared pretty well. You can prepare for the distance, and for the hills which you will encounter, and even running on sand. The only thing you can't replicate is the heat, as it can get up to 40 or 50 degrees Celsius. But I'm determined to do it," he said.

To sponsor Mr Smith, visit www.justgiving.com/mal-smith.

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