A FORMER soldier from Malvern has returned home after completing the challenge of a lifetime - a 156-mile footrace across the Sahara.

Bill Adsett, of St Andrew's Road, was one of 1,050 participants who set out on the Marathon Des Sables, labelled "the toughest foot race in the world".

And Mr Adsett, who signed up to mark his 50th birthday later this year, can now confirm that it fully deserves the title.

He said: "It was harder than I expected, very, very sandy and very hot, with temperatures reaching 50C."

Al;though there ware camps with water and tents supplied at the end of each stage, Runners had to carry all their own supplies and the territory included mountains and salt flats as well as the dunes.

"This year's race was particularly hard with 150 of the runners failing to finish. I managed to finish a respectable 464th overall, or 69th in my age group.

"I was very tired when I was finished, and there was no sense of elation, just relief. I didn't know where I was for a while."

But he was given a memorable welcome on his return; having flown in to the UK. he got the train back to Great Malvern, to find his family waiting on the platform with a stretcher.

"They put be on it and then carried me down to the Morgan pub, where a lot of friends were there to greet me," he said. "We had a memorable night."

As well as marking his birthday, Mr Adsett was also running for Help For Heroes and so far has raised over £3,000,

"Special mention should be made of Carole Shakeshaft who raised £350, and the Morgan Inn, which contributed £50. Thanks to all who have donated to this great charity," he said.

Anyone who wants to contribute can visit justgiving.com/Bill-Adsett.