A PROSPECTIVE city councillor is to put on his running shoes and take part in one of the toughest marathons on the planet.

Gavin Barrett, who is aiming to become Salisbury city councillor for Bemerton in March, has taken his love of running to the next level and entered into the Marathon des Sables.

The event will last for 7 days, and competitors will face a gruelling 156 mile route across the Sahara Desert, one of the most inhospitable landscapes on earth; as well as dealing with lethal temperatures of more than 40 degrees.

Gavin said he's had his eye on the marathon for some time.

He said: "It is a top event, and I decided that this year was the year to do it.

"I have been running for the last eight years, and slowly built up to this stage."

A week long training trip to Lanzarote has helped Gavin prepare for the marathon, but he said it that wasn't "something that you can really train for".

"I have been doing the hard miles, and running on mud as it is the closest thing to running on sand.

"I run up to 70 miles a week, but Salisbury is completely different to the Sahara."

Gavin will fly out to Morocco on April 7, and the race will start two days later. But the route will be kept secret until shortly before the run begins, due to it being a self sufficient event.

He is not concerned by the secretive nature of the course, but it is aware of the challenge ahead of him, and had heard of one particular 10km stretch that took runners four hours to conquer.

"It will be very difficult, and I will only have a few hours sleep each night.

"If all goes well I am aiming to finish in the top 20 per cent of people who finish.

"But the main thing is to get to the end, and raise the money for charity."

Gavin hopes to raise £2,000, and all donations raised will go towards the Trussell Trust.

The Marathon des Sables will take place from April 7-17.

To make a donation visit justgiving.com/fundraising/Gavin-Barrett1