Former Selkirk fiscal set to tackle ‘the toughest footrace in the world’

A BORDERS lawyer is running “the toughest footrace in the world” for charity next month.

Former procurator fiscal depute at Selkirk Alasdair MacLeod will run the seven-day ultramarathon, Marathon des Sables (MDS), in the Moroccan Sahara desert from April 7.

The dad-of-one, who now lives in Dumfermline, is raising money for the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, Sands. He and his wife Shona lost their first child, Isla, who was stillborn at 39 weeks in November 2009.

Alasdair said: “The charity is special to Shona and me. We were absolutely devastated when we lost Isla. I had never heard of Sands until that point. They helped us greatly at a very difficult time.

“They fund much needed research into the causes of stillbirth and fund things like counsellors in maternity wards, cameras for parents to take pictures of their babies and memory boxes for bereaved parents.

“I am running to raise money and to raise awareness of Sands and the good work they do.”

Born in Peebles and raised in Walkerburn, where his parents Norman and Betty still live, Alasdair completed his solicitor traineeship at the procurator fiscal’s office in Selkirk in 2002. He is now a lawyer in the Crown Office in Edinburgh.

On the MDS, he will be running about 160 miles but the exact route is secret until the day before it starts. Runners have to be self-sufficient, carrying their own food and equipment. Water, though strictly rationed, is supplied.

Alasdair said: “I have been interested in the MDS for many years having seen it on TV. I have always enjoyed running and have done 25 marathons. I have however never done anything similar to the MDS.”

He and Shona are funding the challenge, and every penny raised – £2,500 so far – will go to Sands.

Alasdair said: “I am looking forward to the experience, testing myself in such tough conditions and meeting competitors from all over the world.

He said: “Being away from family will be difficult. You are pretty much cut off for the duration of the race. The heat is going to be a problem and a big worry and it’s difficult to prepare for it. Keeping the sand out of my running shoes is another worry. If sand gets in it can make a terrible mess of your feet and drastically reduce your chances of completing the race. I will be wearing gaiters to try and keep the sand out as much as possible.”

He went on: “Shona initially thought I was a bit mad but she understands why I want to do it. She has been very supportive as I’ve had to spend a lot of time training at nights and weekends. My brother Calum, through his company Alba Military Fitness, has paid for much of the equipment. My mum and dad are, I think, quite proud of what I am doing also.

“Although I live in Dunfermline much of my training has been done in the hills around Walkerburn and Innerleithen which has been great.”

His website is www.allymacleodsahararun.co.uk. To donate log onto www.justgiving.com/alasdair-macleod