A TRANENT man is preparing to take on an epic challenge by running the equivalent of six marathons in six days across the Sahara Desert to raise £50,000 for Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity.

Mark Innes, 34, who is originally from Tranent but now stays in Musselburgh with fiancée Ashley and children Lachlan and Brayden, plans to take on what has been dubbed “the toughest footrace on earth” next April in southern Morocco.

The Marathon Des Sables is a 250km challenge over difficult terrain.

Mark, a former Ross High School pupil who owns his own investment company, found out about the challenge from the Netflix documentary Human Playground, which tells stories of challenges people have accomplished to push their body to its limit physically.

The first episode discusses the Marathon Des Sables.

The extreme challenge is not for the faint of heart – three people have died while running it during its 35-year history.

Mark intends to take on the challenge next April but first will compete in the London Marathon next month, and the Edinburgh Marathon in May, before taking on the Half Marathon Des Sables (HMDS) 125km event in Egypt in November, which is half the distance of the full event.

Mark told the Courier: “I’ve always tried to keep myself fit. I’ve never really been a runner, though, so this is all very new.

“I’ve been training for several months now. I do three runs a week but I’ve never actually run a marathon, so the London Marathon will be the first.

“My fiancée has been very supportive. I don’t think Ashley realised how often I’d be training, though!

“I feel prepared for the London and Edinburgh Marathons – it will be the run in Egypt that will be the real challenge.

“That goes past the Pyramids so it’s a real scenic event. But with the hot weather over there, it will be really, really tough I’m sure.

“In order to enter the Marathon Des Sables, you have to do the HMDS one in Egypt first.

“To be doing so much running over a long period of time is going to be very tough.”

Mark has set up a JustGiving page for Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity and hoped to raise at least £50,000.

He said: “I don’t have a personal connection to the charity. Thankfully, none of my kids have had to use the service but I have family who have.

“The work they do is incredible and it’s an honour to raise money for them.

“In my head I had aimed to raise £100,000 but perhaps that’s over ambitious. I’ve set the goal at £50,000 and personally I think over the months ahead we’ll smash that target.

“We’ve raised over £2,000 already and it’s only been up a couple of weeks.

“It might be ambitious but I’d rather set the target high and aim to reach it.”

Mark will take on the London Marathon on April 23 before completing the Edinburgh Marathon on May 28.

Donations can be made at justgiving.com/fundraising/mark-innes50k