Desert duo finish Namib challenge

Dr Andrew Murray, left, and running mate Donnie Campbell, next to the Edward Bohlen shipwreck in the Namib Desert
Dr Andrew Murray, left, and running mate Donnie Campbell, next to the Edward Bohlen shipwreck in the Namib Desert

Former Borders General Hospital doctor Andrew Murray has successfully completed his gruelling desert challenge in Namibia.

In the record-breaking feat – a world’s first – Dr Murray was joined by fellow runner Donnie Campbell.

It’s probably easy to understand why the challenge of running the length of the Namib Desert from Luderitz to Walvis Bay – crossing the highest sand dunes in the world (including the formidable ‘Devil’s Workshop’) and running more than 50km a day in horrendous condititions and completing 504.1km on punishing heavy sand – was never attempted before.

The real question, of course, was why attempt it at all?

Well, Murray has long been an advocate of healthy living, and puts himself through challenges that most people would find impossible to highlight the fact that doing a modicum of exercise a day is an achievable challenge for anyone.

He said: “We don’t advise everyone to run through the Namib, but would like to promote the value of exercise.

“Even 30 minutes of walking five times a week helps you live, on average, seven years longer.”

The pair are no strangers to racing in extreme conditions, with Murray having completed an epic 4,295km run from north Scotland to the Sahara desert, and won races at the North Pole, Antarctica and Outer Mongolia amongst others, while Campbell, a former Royal Marine Commando, completed a 184-mile run from Glasgow to Skye without sleeping.

The Namib desert challenge was set three months ago by Scottish expedition organiser David Scott, and supported by Lyprinol UK, and it was completed at 2.30pm on day nine – February 10.

Speaking from Walvis Bay, Aberdonian Dr Murray 34, said: “The Namib desert is, hands down, both the most spectacular and gruelling place I’ve run in.

“Every step through the sand was energy-sapping, and my feet are destroyed with blisters.

“We were in hefty trouble even after two days, but our support team and the incredible views got us to the finish.

“There were times every day I felt like stopping, but taking on many 300m dunes, passing shipwrecks miles inland, and seeing the surprising plethora of wildlife were particular highlights.”

The team is now engaged in some community work, as well as the sharing of medical and athletic equipment and education, in the Kuiseb river region with Chief Kooitjie and the local Topnaar Tribe, the custodians of the Namib desert work supported by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, and challenge sponsors Lyprinol and Merrell UK.

Thirty-year-old Mr Campbell added: “The expedition leaders’ route selection was incredible, considering no-one has driven parts of the route, never mind run it, so it was a huge effort to deliver Andrew and myself to Walvis Bay a bit battered, bruised and tired, but still in one piece.

“We even ran through abandoned diamond mines, although my fiancee Rachael will be disappointed to learn I couldn’t find a big one ahead of our wedding next month.”

Mr Scott said: “The physical demands we placed on the guys were immense and throughout the challenge we were never certain we would emerge successful.”