Tom attempts ‘Toughest Footrace on Earth’

Can someone from the relaxed atmosphere of a wine shop, more used to nice hot dinners and a glass of wine in the evening, run 156 miles through the Sahara Desert? That’s exactly what Tom Jones from The Whalley Wine Shop is attempting when he tackles the infamous Marathon des Sables known notoriously as “The toughest footrace on Earth”.

Tom in training on the beaches of South Wales
Tom in training on the beaches of South Wales

On April 3rd Tom travels to Southern Morocco to compete in the ‘Marathon of the Sands’ –  the equivalent of six marathons in just six days. The longest single stage of this “ultra marathon” is a gruelling 80km which involves most competitors running non stop for over 16 hours.

Tom, 29, an ex Clitheroe Grammar student who hails from Ribchester but now lives in Clayton Le Moors with his partner Jen, and owns the award winning Whalley Wine Shop, has never run a marathon before. Tom explained “This is my first long distance run of any description, and I’ve gone for one of the most difficult races that exists. It’s not one marathon, it’s six, it’s on consecutive days, it’s in the Sahara desert running on sand dunes and it’s in 50 degree heat.”  On top of that it is a ‘self sufficient’ marathon which means runners have to carry all their food, clothing, equipment and sleeping gear on their backs in a rucksack weighing about 10kg”.

Tom is running the race with long time school friend Adam Evans originally from Mellor. “We start running on the 5th of April and finish on the 10th. It is by far the hardest physical thing I have ever done or am likely to do. This year is also the races 30th anniversary as it started in 1985, sort of fitting as its my 30th birthday this year too. If we needed any more inspiration we have found out that Sir Ranulph Fiennes the greatest living explorer is also doing the race with us this year!”

“A lot of customers and friends have asked why I am doing the run and I suppose the answer is that it’s the complete opposite of what my normal life is like! I enjoy fine dining, fine wines and lovely cheese, not rehydrated food and running through the desert! I wanted to change my lifestyle, lose some weight and hopefully raise a lot of money for charity.”

Tom is hoping to raise £3000 in sponsorship. All money donated will go directly to charity being split between Cancer Research UK and PHAB Whalley – a local group of volunteers helping handicapped children in Whalley. Money will also be donated to the Gurkha Welfare Trust in memory of Tom’s Grandfather Major John Woodhouse who died last November and greatly respected the Gurkha regiment. Should you want to support Tom and his charities please check out his just giving page at or text 70070 and put TMDS85 and the amount of your donation. Thank you.


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