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Two of the UK’s most experienced ultra-marathon runners are poised to start a 550km run across the Namib desert, that will break new ground. Completely uninhabited, and boasting the highest sand dunes in the world at 420 metres,  Dr Andrew Murray, who previously ran 4295km miles from far north Scotland to the Sahara desert and has won races including the North Pole Marathon, and fellow Scottish international distance runner Donnie Campbell who previously ran almost 300km without sleeping start from near the town of Luderitz at 0830 GMT, on 2nd Feb.

The event, “the Namib550-sponsored by Lyprinol” will attempt to run well over 50km a day on an almost entirely sandy and stunningly beautiful course, aiming to finish in Walvis Bay after around 550km of running.

Murray, 34 from Edinburgh, who races for Merrell UK , spoke from the southern edge of the Namib-Naukluft park, saying

“Flying in to Ludowitz I could feel this knot in my stomach.  It was part excitement, and partly trepidation. The sand dunes looked absolutely enormous, and just go on as far as the eye can see. The route we are taking passes shipwrecks, whale carcasses, and we’ll look to avoid various snakes and animals. The exertion of running in the dunes is clearly very different to road or trail running but without question this is one of the most beautiful parts of the world I’ve been to and one of the most difficult challenges I’ve attempted.  However there are no excuses if we don’t complete this, we are indebted to Bert Dukes of Lyprinol, Dave Scott of Sandbaggers, and Jurgens Schumann of Live the Journey have sorted the logistics so all we need to do is run, eat, and stick on plenty suncream”

Campbell, (of UVU racing) 30 from Skye, Scotland added

“We’ve trained hard-about 200km a week even over Christmas and New Year, and are fit and ready to go.  I have no idea if we will get this done, but it’s worth a shot.  I sweated gallons on a training run today.  It was snowing when we left the UK, so the heat in the desert may be an equal challenge to the sand dunes, but there is no point in worrying about it, we will simply put one foot in front of the other.  We are looking to promote the value of exercise for health – it’s not commonly known that walking 30 minutes 5 times per week can make you happier, and decrease the chances of dying early by over 30%. So we are running ultra-marathons and up sand dunes hopefully to inspire people to people out there is to walk more and take the stairs”. 

Dave Scott, the expedition director said

“Between them, these guys have won races on 6 of the world’s 7 continents, often in extreme conditions.  This is in addition to running across East Africa including a 7hr jog to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro  and other major challenges.  But having driven across it, to try and run across the Namib in 10 days would be extraordinary.  And being in Namibia we are keen to share learning and are spending some time after the run with communities in the Kuiseb river region where we will gift medical supplies from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and from our sponsor, Mr Bert Jukes.

The challenge can be followed on www.namib550.com or www.docandrewmurray.com