Friday, May 24, 2024

Essex Chief Inspector set to take on “Toughest Footrace on Earth’

CHIEF Inspector Leigh Norris is heading back to the Sahara Desert this weekend to take on the Marathon des Sables – described as ‘indisputably the Toughest Footrace on Earth’.

Leigh will battle temperatures of over 40C and travel distances of up to 50 miles a day while carrying his food, water, bedding and cooking utensils. 

The seven-day, 156-mile race starts on Sunday with Leigh aiming to raise £10,000 for disability charity Scope. 

You can sponsor him here: Leigh Norris is fundraising for Scope (

Leigh has unfinished business with the MdS after a chest infection forced him to pull out on day two last year.

Despite putting some of his running equipment up for sale when he returned home, Leigh soon decided that he needed to give the race another crack. 

He travels to Morocco today in excellent physical and mental shape.

He said: “I feel really positive about this year. I know what to expect, I’m injury and illness-free and I’m really determined to complete it.

“It was three or four months afterwards last year that I realised I didn’t want to get too much older and look back with regret and wish I’d done it. I put a lot of my kit up for sale thinking I’m never going back but none of it sold. Maybe it was an omen.”

Leigh is an experienced endurance athlete having completed more than 20 marathons and ten ironman triathlons. 

“I train all year round and I’ve done 3.5 million footsteps in the last few months. I genuinely think it’s within my capability to complete it, but things didn’t go well last year. Mentally I had a reset and looked at what I needed to do differently. There were some good learnings around kit and nutrition.”

Leigh is used to overcoming setbacks. He is asthmatic and was warned he may never walk properly again after breaking his foot in 2018. He puts his resilience partly down to losing his dad when he was just 12 years old.

“I am a very determined character – sometimes too determined. If I set myself a goal, I do everything I can to achieve it. I look back on a lot of things throughout life and think that I when I’ve wanted something and really gone for it, I’ve got there in the end.”

Leigh is raising money for Scope to help combat the inequalities and injustice suffered by people with disabilities. He thanked everyone who has contributed so far. 

“People have been really generous, and I am incredibly grateful to anyone who makes a donation.”

You can follow Leigh (race number 1169) through the event website from Sunday onwards: Marathon des sables Live


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