RUNNING through the land formerly known as Burma was like "running through a film set" according to Redditch's veteran marathon man, Doug Richards, aged 66.

Dr Richards was one of only 90 competitors, from 21 countries, to compete in "a hot and humid half marathon" in the Bagan region of Myanmar, once known as Burma, last Saturday (November 15).

Dr Richards, of Flaxley Close, is no stranger to putting his best foot forward in exotic places, including the Sahara, China, South Africa, Jordan and even the Greenland ice cap.

But his latest adventure, among the temples, villages and pagodas of a still mysterious land, was just a little bit different, - as the temperatures reached the high 30s Celsius.

"It was like running through a film set and the villagers were so friendly and supportive even though they live a very basic existence with no electricity or running water," said Dr Richards, who completed the race in 2 hours and 21 minutes.

He added: "We were warned to be watchful for snakes on the trail but fortunately, I didn't encounter any."

Myanmar has 150 species of snakes, and forty of those are venomous, including Russell's Viper and the Spitting Cobra.

Relations between Myanmar and Western Powers have improved since elections were held in 2010, after many years of diplomatic and economic isolation.

Dr Richards said: "What I will recall is the contrast between the villages, where people are very poor, and the hotels, which are opulent but very basic, in that they still won't take credit cards.

"But the country is just coming out of isolation; it's opening up a bit, and the people do seem to be very content with their lives."

Dr Richards was running to raise funds for the Midlands Air Ambulance. He hoped to raise £500 and has already topped £600.

Donations can be made by visiting Doug's fund-raising page at