April 2018 was a significant month for three City, University of London alumni and staff members as they took part in one of the world’s most arduous sporting challenges.

BBC news presenter Sophie Raworth, a household name for UK-based readers, took part in the Marathon des Sables (a gruelling event held annually in April in the Sahara desert), keeping her participation a secret until she had completed the challenge. Also known as ‘the toughest footrace on earth’, the six-day ‘ultramarathon’ sees over 1,000 participants running 251km (156 miles) in southern Morocco.

"It turned out to be the toughest, at times hellish, but most wonderful, rewarding experience I have ever had. Running down the dunes, wearing gaiters to stop the sand getting in my shoes, is something I will never forget."

Raworth told the BBC.

Sophie Raworth (right) and running partner Susie Chan pictured with their Marathon des Sables medals. [Photo: @Susie__Chan]

The ultramarathon also challenged Cass Business School academic and Associate Dean for the MSc Programme Dr Nick Motson and alumnus Jonathan Jenkins. The two lifelong friends, who met 30 years ago during their BSc Banking and International Finance course at Cass Business School, raised over £92,000 to help London’s Air Ambulance exceed its sponsorship target.

This is the second time Dr Motson and Jenkins have attempted the event. In 2016, Jenkins, who is Chief Executive of London’s Air Ambulance, had to drop out at the final stage. In April 2018, the two friends teamed up with doctors, paramedics, pilots, patients and supporters to try again.

Dr Motson said: “Being part of a team made a huge, positive difference. I was truly honoured to take part with the London’s Air Ambulance team. Their professionalism and dedication are outstanding and humbling.”

To read Raworth’s photo essay about her experiences in the Marathon des
Sables, visit: www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-43867390