Ranulph Fiennes completes ‘toughest footrace on Earth’ at 71

Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has completed a marathon in the South Moroccan desert, becoming the oldest Briton to finish the competition. The 71-year-old explorer (pictured) crossed the finish line of the Marathon des Sables at 7.37pm after six days of running in temperatures over 50ºC. He called the experience “more hellish than hell”. Sir Ranulph, who has previously suffered two heart attacks and had a double heart bypass in 2003, almost had to pull out of the 256km race on Thursday. It was feared he would not be able to finish the event after the 91km fourth stage, which saw him run for more than 30 hours on just one hour of sleep.

I never thought 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.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes

Sir Fiennes triumphed, however, running for 10 hours on the final day and raising nearly £1m for cancer care charity Marie Curie. Speaking just before he set off for the final stage Sir Ranulph said it was the charity’s nurses who had motivated him to get through the gruelling course. “Night and day they are there caring for people through some of the toughest and most difficult times of their lives,” he said. Sir Ranulph has long been a determined fundraiser for Marie Curie, raising £6.3m when he climbed the north face of the Eiger in 2007. The oldest runner on the course this year was a 73-year-old South African named Harry Botha.