Riz crawls over finishing line of gruelling foot race
Accountant endures blizzards and storms in six-day challenge
A BUSINESSMAN from Eastcote has survived one of the most gruelling foot races in the world.
Riz Akhtar, who runs RA Accountants, took on the 250km 4Deserts Gobi run and finished a very creditable 113th in this year’s gruelling foot race, the 12th edition, across China’s eastern province of Xinjiang.
Of the 164 participants who began the race, many of whom are seasoned marathon and iron race individuals, 146 crossed the finish line.
The painstaking six day, six stage, 250km foot race, widely considered to be among the world’s top ten most challenging races, became the ‘week of extremes’.
It opened with blizzards, was followed by driving rain then a blistering desert heat and a ferocious sand storm so destructive it prompted organisers to complete the race a day early.
“It was unbelievable,” said Riz. “The camp, our tents, backpacks, supplies, all personal equipment and belongings were literally tossed away and destroyed. We were really lucky to have completed stage five when the worst of the sandstorm hit.”
The competitors spent the week racing through a great variety of landscapes, from sand dunes to high pastures, from mountain passes to alpine paths dotted with yurts and Gobi stones, rocks and scree.
Competitors were able to interact with the native communities and stayed in a Kazak village one night and yurts on another.
“I was exhausted. My feet were in agony and for days I had more sand in my stomach than food, but I feel blessed to have succeeded and completed the race,” added Riz.
“I’m thankful to my trainer and my family, friends and colleagues who all supported and encouraged me along the way. Without them it would have been very easy to give up.”
His challenge has already raised more than £2,000 for his charity, the RA Foundation.
n FLYING THE FLAG: Riz Akhtar during the 250km 4Deserts Gobi run