Pryde of Newcastle ready for desert test

Simon Pryde Simon Pryde will run 150 miles across Sahara

BBC Newcastle's Simon Pryde is escaping Britain's chill this weekend to run the equivalent of six marathons in blistering desert heat.

The sports presenter is taking part in the gruelling Marathon des Sables to raise money for WaterAid and the Alzheimer's Society.

He will begin the 155 mile, six day canter across the Sahara Desert on Sunday in temperatures likely to top 50 degrees celcius, carrying all food and equipment with him.

Described as the toughest footrace on earth, it will see Pryde run across saltpans, up desert-mountains, through ruined towns and even sand storms.

All for charity

Pryde, who presents BBC Newcastle's Total Sport each weekday, is funding the challenge himself so that all money raised will go directly to his charities.

'I'll certainly be thinking of my charities to spur me on and give me strength when I'm running, sweaty and exhausted through the baking heat,' he says.

WaterAid helps to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world's poorest communities, while the Alzheimer's Society works to improve the quality of life of people affected by dementia.

'My Granny Audrey passed away with Alzheimer's disease back in the 1990s, so I understand the effect the condition has, not just on the people living with dementia, but also their families and loved ones,' Pryde explains. 'Dementia currently affects 800,000 people across the UK , and with an ageing population, its prevalence will undoubtedly increase.'

He has already raised more than £3600 - a total he hopes will rise to his target of £5000 by the time he's completed the brutal test.

'Thank you to everyone who's donated so far,' Pryde says. 'Generosity is genuinely humbling and also inspiring.'

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