01723 360 620


OSA Alumni recipient for 2016 – Niki Doeg (neé Rhodes) who with three other women rowed the Atlantic, recently completed a completely different challenge – the notorious Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sands).

The ultramarathon covers 250km over 6 days across the Sahara in Morocco. The hardest day involves a stage of 86km in length. It has been described as the toughest footrace on Earth -  through endless dunes, over rocky jebels, and across white-hot salt plains, with temperatures regularly reaching 50 centigrade.

Participants have to be self-sufficient and carry all their own food and equipment for the week on their backs. Communal goat’s-hair Berber tents are pitched every night. Water is rationed and if you exceed the ration, you get a time penalty.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes became the oldest Briton to complete the Marathon des Sables in 2015, aged 71. He described that penultimate day's walk as "more hellish than Hell".

Niki describes the experience: “huge jebels, endless sand dunes, harsh rocky flats, silly hot temperatures and a blooming heavy pack as we had to carry all our weeks supplies, kit and more. Hardest day was the 86km day (and night!) but we got to the end, got our medals and are still smiling. Now got a day in a hotel with a proper bed to rest my shredded feet before flying back to the UK tomorrow afternoon. Thank you to all who sent such lovely messages of support both before and during the event (via the MDS email system which we got printed copies off every evening in our bivouacs), this meant so very, very much and helped me through the tough times.”

We look forward to Niki returning to College to share her experiences with the students. Her next challenge -  training for iron man, ahead of a half iron man in September. However, she says she needs to learn how to ride a bike!