Intrepid duo prepare to take on ‘the toughest footrace on earth’

Milly Archibald and Claire Wood are taking on the Marathon des Sables next year.
Milly Archibald and Claire Wood are taking on the Marathon des Sables next year.

Two Northumberland women are preparing to tackle a gruelling endurance challenge, described as the toughest footrace on earth, in aid of a children’s charity.

Claire Wood and Milly Archibald have signed up to take part in the Marathon des Sables in April 2018.

The race is a multi-stage adventure in one of the world’s most inhospitable environments – the Sahara desert.

In just six days, the intrepid pair will aim to cover more than 250km through endless dunes, over rocky jebels and across white-hot salt plains, battling scorching sun in the process, with temperatures regularly reaching 50 degrees centigrade. To make things even tougher, participants need to be self-sufficient, carrying all their own food and equipment on their back.

Claire and Milly are competing as part of Team Hope and are aiming to raise £16,000 for Hope for Children, an international charity that believes every child has the right to a happy, healthy and positive childhood.

Claire said: “The Marathon des Sables has always been on my bucket list, but I had never quite taken the plunge to enter.

“Then when my mum died this year, I decided that life is too short to hold back. My amazing running partner Milly has kindly volunteered to experience the pain with me.

“As a paediatrician, I have seen some awful consequences of children living in poverty and know how important the funds that Hope for Children raises are to try to improve living conditions for children.”

Until Christmas, every pound donated by the UK public will be matched by the UK Government, as part of the Hope for Children’s Head Held High appeal, which is raising funds to improve access to education for children in Africa.

To take advantage of this, Claire and Milly are holding a fund-raising Christmas fair and Nearly New Sale at Alnwick’s Willowburn Sports Centre, on Sunday, November 12, from 10.30am to 2pm.

If you would like a stall, donate clothes for the Nearly New Sale (you keep 70 per cent of the sale price) or provide any other fund-raising help, email

To sponsor Claire and Milly, visit