A KEEN runner from Northwich will be taking on a gruelling challenge in the harsh African desert for charity.

Jo Molyneaux, of Headworth Close, will be taking on the Marathon des Sables by running across the Sahara Desert.

The project manager flew to Morroco last week to take part in the race, which started on April 8, covering six marathons in six days across the Sahara Desert.

She said: “This will be one of the hardest things I have ever done. The whole distance is the equivalent of five and a half regular marathons, people think it is just crazy that I’m doing it.”

The 155-mile journey takes place over six days, averaging 40 miles of running in blistering 150-degree heat. Runners must complete the distance over sand dunes, salt flats and rocky terrain accompanied by the fierce temperatures, as well as carrying all of their food and survival equipment.

Jo has been training for many months now, and ready to take on the desert in this gruelling challenge. She has recently been away in Lanzarote to adjust to running in warmer conditions.

The grandmother has been running for more than 20 years and has completed various marathons and half marathons, as well as a 370-mile ski race across the Arctic.

She said: “It will be a real test of endurance, no doubt. Marathon des Sables has been on my ‘must do’ list for many years and is very much the opposite of my race across the Arctic in 2005.

“The endless sand will probably be the hardest thing to deal with, constantly in your face and at your feet.”

The event website advises runners that, to protect feet from the harsh sands, they wear a bag over the top of shoes to prevent the sand getting in.

The 57-year-old has been raising funds for Papyrus, a charity for the prevention of young suicide, and is taking part in memory of Maisy Lewis, a 14-year-old schoolgirl from Runcorn who took her own life in October.

Jo said: “This charity really does save lives. I wanted to do something and make sure no other family goes through what Maisy’s parents are going through.”

So far, Jo has raised more than £1,300 for the charity. To donate visit justgiving. com/fundraising/jomoly.