A BALLYCASTLE man is preparing to lace up for what is widely regarded as ‘the toughest foot race on earth’ - a gruelling 156 mile ultra-marathon in the Sahara Desert.
For many the more common 26.2 mile marathons - such as those in Belfast, Dublin and London each year - are a once-in-a-lifetime challenge.
But super-fit Noel Brick enjoys pushing the limits that bit further and will undertake his biggest test to date in April in one of the world’s most inhospitable habitats in order to raise funds for good causes.
In recent months Noel - a sports and exercise science lecturer at the Northern Regional College in Coleraine- has been pounding the roads - and sand dunes - along the north coast in preparation for the epic Sahara Desert Marathon - or Marathon des Sables.
Around 800 hardy souls will take their place at the start line in Morocco and push their bodies to the extreme in temperatures in excess of 40C.
As well as the baking heat, competitors also have to overcome running on energy-sapping sand as well as the lack of distractions to lift their minds from the demands being placed on their bodies.
“We will have water and a tent,” Noel (35) told the Times.
“We will be provided with 12 bottles of water each day which won’t be enough really so we will be dehydrated.
“It will be all about pacing ourselves and managing as best we can.
“One of the biggest challenges though will be looking out and just seeing miles and miles of desert ahead.
“It is back-to-back long runs, including 43 miles in one day.
“From a sports psychology point of view that interests me so that’s one of the reasons I wanted to do it.
“The mental and physical challenge is a great test personally as well as the opportunity to raise funds for great causes.”
Noel will be raising money for Facing Africa and Northern Ireland-based charity PIPS which provides suicide prevention training for members of the public on how to save someone from suicide.
Facing Africa provides help and treatment for people suffering the debilitating effects of a gangerous disease called Noma which leaves its victims with severe facial wounds.
Next month, sports students at the Northern Regional College will be taking part in the ‘Run for their lives’ challenge as a fundraiser ahead of the Sahara Desert Marathon.
Approximately 80 young people will run as a relay team on a treadmill in the college, attempting to break last year’s winning time of 20 hours 56 minutes for the 156 mile Sahara Marathon.
Noel praised the fantastic support he was received locally to date and said there is still time for anyone who wishes to support the excellent causes he is running for to come forward.
In return for sponsorship Noel is offering to promote businesses on t-shirts used during the Sahara Marathon which is screened on Eurosport, as well as mentions in the local media and social networking sites and other promotional opportunities.
“This is a unique opportunity for sponsors to be associated with such an event and with such worthy causes,” said Noel.
“Our sponsors at present for the Run for their lives event are Domino’s Pizza, Coleraine Foot Clinic, 18 Dental, Louise McKeag Opticians, and Quiery Motors.
“If you wish to contact us, please do so on 028 70354717.”