Senior over halfway in biggest challenge yet

Leeds Rhinos legend Keith Senior is over halfway in his incredible challenge to complete the infamous Marathon Des Sables after getting to halfway in the gruelling 91km fourth stage of the event.

The Marathon Des Sables is a foot race, open to runners and walkers, with several stages, free style, and with food self-sufficiency over a distance of about 250 Km. Each participant must carry his/herown backpack containing food, sleeping gear and other material.

The 39-year-old, along with fellow former Super League star Paul Sculthorpe, has completed the opening three stages of just over 30km each through the desert but stage 4 is an epic physical and mental challenge for all competitors.

With this being the 30th anniversary of the event, the fourth stage has been made into the longest ever attempted in the race's history. Having set off from the Zireg jebel at 08:00am (11:00am for the top 50 in the overall ranking), the runners will have to cover 91.7km inside a time window of 36 hours to avoid elimination.

Keith is part of a team of 19 runners who are raising valuable funds for Walking With The Wounded, and are going by two injured servicemen who took part in the recent Virgin Money South Pole Allied Challenge.

Walking With The Wounded raises funds to support injured servicemen and women through re-skilling and retraining them, helping them to find new careers outside the military. Walking With The Wounded does not fund its high profile expeditions, these are all corporately sponsored. A big thank you to Virgin Money who are sponsoring the MDS team this year, enabling all of the funds we raise to go directly to the programmes which WWTW funds. 

All funds raised by the endeavours of the MDS team will be allocated to our Head Start programme. The hope is that knowing how many people the team is helping through their funds raised will spur them on when the going gets tough in the sand.

Head Start is Walking With The Wounded’s programme to address the increasing needs of ex-service personnel suffering with mental injuries and sits alongside current provision through the NHS and other relevant charities. Research suggests for every physical injury there will be five mental injuries. For Iraq and Afghanistan alone we believe there are as many as 22,000 veterans suffering from mental health problems as a result of their service. 

Before setting off, Keith commented, "I can relate to our wounded, after I was forced to retire from professional Rugby in my 30's. I was at a crossroads in my life, and I lacked a direction, focus and motivation. I had to start over again when most people were just becoming established in their careers. Similar to our wounded, I had to find a motivation to know that life could continue with purpose and direction. I am happy to help them in some small way and raising funds for the charity is a huge drive to keep me going through training."

You can sponsor Keith by clicking here or click here send him a message of support that the organisers show him at the end of each day.