Nottingham lecturer Graham Pitcher's ultra marathon challenge
A 57-year-old university lecturer who is running 14 ultra marathons within a year has begun a 156-mile (251 km) race across the Sahara desert.
Graham Pitcher, a senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, has been raising money for a mental health charity for young people.
He said running long distances was a "significant mental challenge".
The Marathon des Sables, often described as the 'toughest footrace on Earth', takes place over six days.
Mr Pitcher trained for the Morocco-based endurance event by running on Skegness beach.
The Rutland-based runner said he hopes to have covered 854 miles (1,374 km) by the end of 2014.
He said: "It all started off by entering races that I wanted to attempt this year and I finished up at 14.
"At 57 years of age running long distances is not just a physical challenge but presents a significant mental challenge as well."
Mr Pitcher, who has so far completed three of the 14 ultra-marathons, has raised about £3,000 for the YoungMinds charity.
His 14th ultra marathon is due to take place in December, in Dorset.