MATT Sims finished in the top third of his age category at the Marathon des Sables – quite possibly the toughest foot race in the world.
In just six days competitors run over 226km (142 miles) through endless dunes, over rocky mountains and across white-hot salt plains in the Sahara.
Stratford AC member Sims, who was raising money for Best Beginnings, decided to moderate his running for the opening 32km, completing the stage in 4:54.37 and finishing 130th in his age category.
The next stage proved to be even more difficult as temperatures rose to extreme heights while competitors ran up a mountain.
Sims’ job was made even more difficult as he was carrying an 8.2kg pack on his back, but he battled on to complete the 32.2km second stage in 5:51.05 and was 94th in his age category.
The 37.1km third stage saw runners compete on a diverse terrain of rocky flats, dunes and dry river beds, with Sims clocking 5:37:44 and moving up to 77th in his age category.
The fourth stage was the biggest of the lot as competitors took on the 76.3km course.
He completed this stage in a staggering 12:43.17, finishing 58th in his age category.
The fifth stage was completed in 5:27.21, a performance that saw him finish 67th in his age category.
Sims completed the most gruelling of races in 34:34.04, finishing in the top third of his age category in 71st place out of 218 and finishing a magnificent 202nd out of the 752 finishers.