The heat is on for West Hertfordshire paramedics

Friday, 18 March, 2011

Jenny, Chris and Nicki

Three East of England Ambulance Service paramedics are preparing to take part in the Marathon des Sables in Morocco which is described as the 'toughest foot race on earth'

Paramedics, Chris Davies, Jenny Pedder and Nicki Smith are hoping to raise as much money as possible for their chosen charities Cancer Research, Brooke Healthy Working Animals and Help for Heroes.

Extreme heat and cold temperatures, scorpions and camel spiders, heat exhaustion and blisters are a few dangers that are part and parcel of this dangerous but challenging course. Chris and Jenny both based at Hemel Hempstead are joining their colleague Nicki, based at Harpenden, and are flying off at the end of the month to commence the marathon on April 3rd, with completion on April 9th.

Previous races have witnessed extraordinary examples of courage and survival. Unlike the Marrakech marathon, which takes place in January when temperatures are relatively cool, the organisers of the Marathon des Sables seem to wait deliberately until the Sahara gets seriously hot, up to 50 degrees Celsius.

The run will take them over the roughest terrain imaginable covering 250km over the six days. The course is equivalent to running six regular marathons. They will endure extreme temperatures throughout the day and freezing conditions through the night. In addition, competitors taking part have to carry everything they will need for the duration (apart from a tent) in their rucksacks, which will include essentials such as food, clothes, medical kits and sleeping bags.

All three have been training and preparing vigorously over the last year and have mixed feelings about the biggest challenge of their lives. Nicki said: "Obviously our aim is to complete the marathon and raise as much money as possible for our three chosen charities. Of course we have worries but we will endeavour to reach the final, in one piece."

Chris said: "Its going to be very tough not eating nice food over the week but it's a challenge of a life time and one I want to complete." Jenny's worst fear is getting lost, she added: "We are not allowed to use satellite navigations systems or mobile phones to help us reach the finishing line. One part of the course we are running through the night which will be exciting."

Hayden Newton, chief executive officer who recently met up with the team, he said: "I am very impressed about their commitment and hard work preparing for such an incredible race. I personally wish them well on their journey and best of luck over the week."

If anyone wishes to sponsor the girls, please click look at the following sites -

Chris -

Jenny -

Nicki -

Return to news menu