A GRANDFATHER from Woodstock is set to take on a 156 mile trek through the Sahara Desert in Morocco.

Mahmut Hilmi, 72, will compete in the Marathon des Sables next week, becoming the third oldest man to take on the endurance challenge.

Over the course of the race, participants will cover 250km in seven days, carrying all their food and equipment.

Temperatures in the desert can soar to 50C.

The adventurous fundraiser will use the challenge to raise cash for two charities, Macmillan Cancer Support and Hope for Children.

He said: “I am looking forward to doing this event, with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.

“I hope that managing the extreme physical and emotional demands presented will be a fulfilling experience.

“Despite my advancing years I am in good shape for the event and my training is going well.”

The challenge will see competitors take on a wide variety of terrains as they cover the set distance.

As well as carrying their supplies they will sleep in tents when they stop to recuperate.

It is a very harsh environment, but also has its own unique beauty, with sand dunes, salt plains and mountains.

There can be extreme sandstorms, reducing visibility to only a few yards.

Mr Hilmi, who has run a number of marathons and double marathons, said the most important thing was finding enjoyment in the event.

He said: “I’m looking forward to it but just hope it goes well.

"I’m not aiming for anything like a certain time.

"It is important to enjoy these things.”

Mr Hilmi, a charted architect, is offering preliminary consultations for £50, all of which will go towards raising funds for charity.

The Marathon des Sables was first held in 1986 with 23 runners but by 2009 1,000 people took part.

It has been described as the toughest foot race on earth and the longest single stage is 57 miles long.

Last year the Half Marathon des Sables was held for the first time in Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands and a full-length version was also held in Peru.

Those interested in receiving a consultation should contact him on m.hilmi@btinternet.com

Alternatively, reach him by phone by calling 01993 812171.

For more information or to make a donation go to virginmoneygiving.com/MahmutHilmi