Limerick man enters toughest footrace on Earth

A LIMERICK man is running the equivalent of six marathons in six days through the Sahara Desert in what has been described as the ‘toughest footrace on Earth.’

Ulick Burke from North Circular Road is taking part in the gruelling Marathon des Sables, a 251km run requiring him to carry a backpack of food, clothing and safety supplies to get him through the ultra-marathon in the searing heat.

The 36-year-old is hoping to raise £30k sterling for the charity, Facing Africa Noma, who help children with severe facial disfigurement.

Ulick, who works as a human resources manager with Intel in Dubai, attended Ardscoil Rís and played rugby with UL but only took up running in his late twenties.

He has previously taken part in triathlons in Ireland and for the last five years ran in the  ’Hell of the West’ triathlon in Kilkee. Ulick has also taken part in triathlon off Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco in 2010.

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His cousin Michael Burke from Galway is also running in the marathon from April 7 to 14.

Ulick said he was looking for a challenge. “Myself and my cousin were trying to see if we could do an Iron Man (triathlon event) or maybe climb Everest. But we wondered what we could use to our advantage in terms of what was on our doorstep. And when you think of the terrain you have to run on in the Marathon Des Sables and what we have here, well it made sense really. It will be definitely be a challenge. In Ireland I train in temperatures of minus two but my mantra for the week is simple – ‘if in doubt, keep running!,” he said.

His proud mother Bridie, two sisters, Kate and Aoife and younger brother Rory will be tracking his progress on the marathon website.

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