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UK physio is second woman to finish gruelling desert challenge

An ultra-marathon running physio has finished the gruelling Marathon des Sables as the highest placed Brit in the event’s history – and the second woman home.

Jo Meek, a physiotherapist at HMS Drake in Plymouth, only found out she had a place for the Sahara desert race in November.

But four months of hard training, including 10 sessions in a heat chamber to help acclimatise, saw Ms Meek finish in 22nd place overall.

‘I am beyond delighted with the result,’ she said. ‘I’m still in a daze after finishing as well as I did.’

The 250 kilometre race took place last month. It included long desert stretches and mountain climbs, all in temperatures of up to 45° C.

The 1,000 competitors carry their own food and equipment and stay in communal bivouacs overnight and even water is limited with time penalties for those who require extra.

Ms Meek said: ‘My physio training came in really handy for the other people in my tent because I helped them a lot with strapping and taping.’

Another physio, Debbie Simpson, from the Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust, also completed the gruelling challenge, which she took on to mark her 50th birthday.

She was also raising money for the charity Facing Africa Noma.

After the event she said she’d suffered a few blisters, swollen feet and heat stroke. ‘But I’m now well recovered and what an amazing experience!’

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