Milland villager Tom’s Sahara challenge

Tom Boam
Tom Boam

MILLAND villager Tom Boam is about to set off on a challenge that has been described as ‘the toughest foot race on Earth’.

Marathon des Sables (MdS) is a race covering 250k on foot in the Sahara desert over six days, contestants carrying all their own food and equipment.

“Clearly I am hoping that the description is general over-hype,” said Tom. “But knowing people who have previously entered the race, I fear it may be accurate.”

Tom starts on the sponsored challenge early next month (April) with two friends, Johannes Wassenberg and Rob Gray.

The three are all raising funds for different charities, but Tom has chosen a cause very close to his heart.

His mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two years ago and he is supporting Dementia UK.

“So far I have raised a little over £6,300 but trying to get to £10,000 so all support is really appreciated,” he said.

The international ultra-marathon race was established in 1986 and now attracts 1,100 participants from across the globe and a support team 400-strong.

“I keep asking myself how I got into this,” said Tom. “All I did was suggest to a couple of friends we enter into the 2013 100km along the South Downs. The response I got was they wanted more of a challenge and floated the idea of MdS.”

Although Tom’s initial reaction was a firm ‘no’, he found himself caving in and started training last March: “It proved a complete waste of time as I promptly broke my right leg in early June. With a shiny plate and several screws inserted, I was eventually allowed to place weight on my leg in September and we decided there was time to get the leg and the rest of me fit in time for early April.”

He is now putting in some six hours’ exercise a day and work has been put aside, with Tom referring to himself as a ‘professional athlete.’

Sponsors can support his challenge by visiting his Just Giving page, or send a cheque made payable to Dementia UK to Standings Cottage, Borden Wood, Liphook, GU30 7JZ.