Two farming men are set to raise more than £30,000 for charity, having completed “the toughest footrace in the world”.

NFU North East regional director Barney Kay (pictured right) and Shrewsbury Strutt & Parker land agent Jack Tavernor (pictured below) recently travelled to Morocco to run the Marathon des Sables – a six-day, 156-mile epic endurance event across the Sahara desert in scorching temperatures.

Their achievements have been rewarded by a raft of donations, with the men raising money for Mencap and Farm Africa, respectively.

“I cannot adequately describe what this event has been like,” said Mr Kay. “I have seen some of the most incredible scenery on the planet. The temperature at times was almost suffocating – you feel like you’re wrapped in a superheated air cocoon. However, Marathon des Sables is really about the people and I have met people who will inspire me forever.

Facts about the race 

  • More than 1,000 participants
  • Temperature can reach 50C
  • Equivalent of running from London to Dover and back
  • About 6.5km of plasters used 

“Mentally it renews your faith in human nature. Everyone is prepared to help each other to achieve this common purpose and so many people are raising money for great causes – although, interestingly, this is a predominantly British trait, I found – with so many personal stories behind them.

“Farm Africa is an amazing charity and absolutely deserves every bit of support we can give. Not only is it a charity that resonates with what I do on a daily basis [working with farmers in the UK] but I also have friends in Kenya and have seen first-hand some of the good things these guys do.”

jack-tavernorMr Tavernor said: “It was an awesome experience and incredibly hard work – far and away the toughest and most gruelling thing I’ve ever done. Keeping going was tough enough when the body was saying ‘no’ – let alone doing marathon after marathon over mountains, sand dunes and salt plains in heat up to 54C!

“Mencap is a brilliant charity that works really hard, both locally and nationally, to support people of all ages with learning disabilities. Not only does it help individuals with such difficulties, it also supports their families and carers.

“I’m sure pretty much everyone in the UK will know someone who has benefited in some way from the work it does.”

More on this topic

Go to Barney’s Farm Africa donation page

Go to Jack’s Mencap donation page

Watch a video clip of Barney at the event