A Scottish GP has become one of only two people to complete a 500km run over the highest sand dunes in the world in Namibia.
Dr Andrew Murray, a 34-year-old locum GP from Aberdeen based in Edinburgh who used to advise the Scottish Government on physical activity, completed the Namib 550 expedition across the dunes of the Namib Desert on Tuesday along with Donnie Campbell, 30, founder of a personal training business.
It is the latest in a long line of gruelling challenges undertaken by Dr Murray, including a 5,000km run in 2011.
The pair ran from Luderitz to Walvis Bay, both towns on the Atlantic coast, over nine days, covering over 50km each day. Their 504.1km route included a notorious belt known as the Devil’s Workshop.
Summer temperatures in the Namib desert, which stretches 1,200 miles in total across Angola, Namibia and South Africa, can reach 50°C.
Speaking from Walvis Bay after finishing, Dr Murray 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 2 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 300 metre dunes, passing shipwrecks miles inland, and seeing the surprising plethora of wildlife were particular highlights.’
Both runners arrived in Namibia with experience of extreme conditions. In 2011 Dr Murray completed a 78-day, 4295km run from John O’Groats to the Sahara Desert and he has also raced at the North Pole, in Antartica and in Outer Mongolia. Mr Campbell, a former Royal Marine Commando, completed a 184-mile run from Glasgow to Skye without sleeping later that year.
Dr Murray used the opportunity to extol the virtues of leading an active lifestyle.
‘We don’t advise everyone to run through the Namib, but would like to promote the value of exercise,’ he said. ‘Even 30 minutes of walking 5 times a week helps you live on average 7 years longer.’
The GP spent six months working as an adviser on physical activity to the Scottish government in 2012, when he was tasked with encouraging people to exercise.
With the run complete, the team are taking part in local community work, supported by groups including the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. They will be donating medical equipment and sports gear to the local tribe along the Kuiseb river.