Marathon running is a hard enough sport as it is.
But toss in sand storms and sweltering desert heat and it transforms into a sport of survival rather than competition.
Yet many press on looking for the ultimate challenge. Among them is Cayman-based Kenneth Krys.
Krys is scheduled to run the Sand Marathon in Morocco from 26 March through to 6 April 2009.
Krys is slated to fly from the UK 26 March as the actual event takes place 29 March to 3 April.
The Sand Marathon (officially called the Marathon Des Sables) is one of the toughest runs in the world.
It is essentially a six-day, 254 km (156 mile) ultra-marathon, which is the equivalent to five and a half regular marathons. The longest single stage is 84 km (52 miles) long.
The event has been held every year in the southern Moroccan desert since 1986. It is widely considered the toughest foot race on Earth.
If that does not sound daunting enough then consider that since 2007 two competitors have died during the race and one was lost for nine days and lost over 30 pounds.
But Krys, a well known figure in the professional community, is not going into the race blindly. He has been taking steps to fortify his body for whatever the desert throws at him next month.
At the moment he is training intensely with a personal trainer for more than two hours three times a week and is running up to 30 miles a week.
Krys, founder and managing director for Krys & Associates Cayman Ltd, can even be seen every Sunday running along Seven Mile Beach with a backpack carrying approximately 10-15 pounds of gear for two hours to recreate the feel of running in the desert.
Krys has also sought out international competitions to get him prepared. He completed the Disney Marathon in Orlando last weekend, the Cayman Island half marathon in December, the Philadelphia Marathon in November 2008 as well as the San Diego Marathon last June.
The thrill of completing such a deadly race is not the only source of motivation for Krys.
It is not lost on Krys that Africa is one of the world’s most dire countries and he wants to do his part to change that.
Thus Krys is using the race to support the Facing Africa/ NOMA movement.
Facing Africa is a cause that works around the world to promote awareness of the disease NOMA. NOMA is an illness found almost exclusively in malnourished children in the poorest countries.
It is a vicious and deadly gangrene that eats away the flesh around the mouth and face of children mainly six years and under. It is estimated that 70-90 percent of these children die and for those who survive, their faces are so disfigured they are rejected by their communal societies.
Facing Africa works to send out medical teams to the countries most affected by NOMA to carry out facial reconstruction work and help train the local medical staff.
As Krys states the troubles of African children creates a strong urge to help inside him.
‘The Sand Marathon is a personal challenge for me on two fronts. One is a physical challenge. I am training in excess of 15 hours a week to ensure I have the strength and endurance I will need to run the equivalent of five and half marathons in six days.
‘The second is a spiritual commitment. The plight of children in Africa struck by NOMA is terrible and the ability for me to run in support of fighting that disease is inspiring and rewarding.’
Krys hopes his cause can inspire others in the local community to follow in his footsteps.
As a result Krys is seeking to raise funds for the charity with those efforts taking off this week.
Krys has sponsored many local charities and events over the years including the CI Cancer Society, the Nadine Andreas Foster Home, Pirates Week, the Christmas for Kids campaign and the Jingle Bell Walk/Run.
Anyone looking to support his run can log on to www.facingafrica.org/en/pages/donations01.shtml for details.