Ilford woman runs 159 miles in Sahara Desert for charity

PUBLISHED: 15:00 30 April 2016

Mandy Bansal

Mandy Bansal


It is one of the most extreme challenges in the world, covering 159 miles in the sweltering heat of the Sahara desert over six days.

Widely known as the toughest footrace in the world, Mandy Bansal, 42, from Clayhall, completed the gruelling Marathon Des Sables in 56 hours, and came 589th out of 1,200 participants.

Mandy said: “It was an amazing experience and I think I could say life changing.

“It was one of the toughest things I have ever done, but I’ve just signed up for 2017.”

Mandy decided to enter the challenge after a “life-changing” incident in 2009, where she lost her sight for more than six weeks, after her optic nerve became inflamed.

She said: “It made me think about my lifestyle and my health.

“Before then, I had never ran a marathon in my life.”

From the marathon, Mandy raised £2,745 which she will donate to vision charity British Blind Sport.

She said: “Losing my sight made me realise how difficult blindness and visual impairment can make life.”

The notorious multi-stage race saw Mandy run and walk the equivalent distance of a marathon a day in boiling and freezing conditions, while carrying all her supplies on her back.

She said: “The hardest point for me was on the first day which was a relatively short course, but included 15km of sand dunes.

“I was really questioning why I was there.”

This year, the race was the longest it has ever been, making the double stage even tougher, as participants walked, jogged and ran 84km in 22 hours.

Mandy said: “At 2am, I started hallucinating and thought I could smell fish and chips.

“I was telling everyone that there was a fish and chip stand at the next point.

“There wasn’t, it was just some Moroccan soup instead.”

To donate to Mandy’s JustGiving page, visit

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