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Fiennes finishes desert marathon

Published 10/04/2015

Sir Ranulph Fiennes before the start of the sixth day for the Marathon des Sables - a gruelling six-day ultra-marathon in the Moroccan desert. Marie Curie/Liz Scarff/PA Wire.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes before the start of the sixth day for the Marathon des Sables - a gruelling six-day ultra-marathon in the Moroccan desert. Marie Curie/Liz Scarff/PA Wire.
Marie Curie Cancer Care of Sir Ranulph Fiennes at the finish line on the fifth day for the Marathon des Sables - a gruelling six-day ultra-marathon in the Moroccan desert. Marie Curie/Liz Scarff/PA Wire.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes and trainer Rory Coleman approaching camp 4 during the fourth day for the Marathon des Sables - a gruelling six-day ultra-marathon in the Moroccan desert. Marie Curie/Liz Scarff/PA Wire.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes has completed the Marathon des Sables

Sir Ranulph Fiennes has become the oldest Briton to complete the Marathon des Sables.

The 71-year-old explorer crossed the finish line at 7.37pm after running for six days in over 50C (122F) heat in the South Moroccan desert.

The veteran explorer, who was almost forced to pull out on Thursday as the exertion had begun to take its toll on his heart, completed the 256km ultra marathon tonight, raising nearly £1 million for Marie Curie.

In today's final stage of the race, dubbed the "toughest footrace on Earth", Sir Ranulph ran for 10 hours in the desert.

Speaking just before he set off at 9.30 (BST) this morning Sir Ranulph said: "My motivation of the past five days has been the amazing work of the Marie Curie Nurses.

"Night and day they are there caring for people through some of the toughest and most difficult times of their lives.

"This is all about raising money to help them continue doing this amazing work, so nothing is going to stop me now."

There were fears that Sir Ranulph, who has previously suffered two heart attacks and underwent a double heart bypass in 2003, would not be able to finish the event after the 91km fourth stage, which saw him run for over 30 hours with just one hour of sleep.

But Sir Ranulph, who described the experience as "more hellish than hell", continued running today, finally completing the race after six days of exertion.

Sir Ranulph has previously raised £6.3 million for Marie Curie - i n 2007 he climbed the Eiger by its north face for the charity, a nd in May 2009, at the age of 65, he became the oldest Briton to climb to the summit of Mount Everest.

Today, the explorer added to his list of achievements the accolade of the oldest Briton ever to complete the Marathon des Sables.

Dr Jane Collins, Chief Executive of Marie Curie said: "We'd like to say a huge congratulations and thank you to Sir Ranulph Fiennes. It was clearly an incredibly difficult physical and mental challenge and he proves that with sheer determination, anything is possible.

"His never failing commitment to finish the race and raise as much money as possible for Marie Curie has simply been fantastic.

"We hope he inspires others to take on their own challenge for Marie Curie and help us care for more people living with a terminal illness."

Speaking after crossing the finish line, Sir Ranulph said: "I don't feel good - my back is bad. Luckily I've had a load of pain killers. Without them I would have been even more difficult.

"I never though I wouldn't make it. But there were points where I thought the camels, who walk at the rear sweeping up those who are too slow, were getting dangerously close.

"I'd like to thank all the wonderful people who have donated money to the cause which is most important to me, Marie Curie."

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