A keen runner is preparing to tackle a desert challenge known as “the toughest foot-race on earth”.

Neal Edmondson will strive to cover 156 miles through the searing heat of the Moroccan Sahara in April.

The 27-year-old account manager with Kelda Water Services is tackling the Marathon des Sables to raise money for The Children’s Air Ambulance.

The new charity provides emergency transport for children across the UK. Mr Edmondson chose the charity because his baby nephew, Wilf, now ten-months-old and thriving, needed around-the-clock care after he was born 14 weeks premature.

He said: “I know I have taken on an enormous challenge – my friends think I am crazy!

“Put simply, I’m attempting to run the equivalent of Leeds to Whitby and back again in 45 degrees celsius heat, carrying roughly a 10kg backpack.

“But if I can raise a lot of money for the Children’s Air Ambulance all the hard work will be worth it.

“I used to compete in the Modern Pentathlon and run to quite a high level in my teens.

“After a knee injury and operation, I was keen to get back to full fitness and wanted to really push myself by attempting something that I could be proud of for the rest of my life. When my friend suggested the Marathon des Sables, my mind was made up.”

Mr Edmondson, from Pool-in-Wharfedale, has completed a series of gruelling runs in the UK, including the 46-mile Brecon Beacons Ultra Marathon and 127 miles along the Liverpool to Leeds canal, in preparation for the challenge.

He is being backed by his fiancee, Faye, family and friends and sponsored by several companies including Parkers Promotional Products, Snugpak and Likey’s Outdoor Gear.

His fundraising page is at www.justgiving.com/nealmds2014.