Riz crawls over fin­ish­ing line of gru­elling foot race

Ac­coun­tant en­dures bliz­zards and storms in six-day chal­lenge

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Nathan Spen­de­low ed­i­to­ri­aluxbridge@trin­i­tysouth.co.uk

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

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