In a tribute to his late father, a Yateley police officer is taking on the "toughest footrace on earth" for charity.

Steve Randall, 38, will take part in the 2014 Marathon des Sables, a six-day, 156-mile race across the Sahara desert, starting on April 6.

He is competing in memory of his father Owen, who died, aged 77, in 2012 after suffering a series of battles with ill health.

A former serviceman, Owen received support from the Royal British Legion (RBL) in his later years and his son is now eager to repay that support by running the Sahara race in aid of the charity. It provides care and support to serving members of the armed forces, veterans and their families.

Mr Randall said: “It’s pretty extreme. I’m very excited about the event as it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I’ll be wearing a bag weighing 12kg. I’m doing about 30-40 miles every week, but it’s difficult sticking to a set training regime and fitting that around family life and working shifts as well.”

Mr Randall, who lives with his wife Nichola and seven-year-old son Jack, competed in his first marathon last year and told his father that he wanted to take on a big challenge.

“I wanted to do something for a charity he felt really strongly about,” said Steve. “In the last year of his life, the RBL did so much for my father.

“It’s something I can sit down with my son and explain how worthwhile it was.”

The race requires competitors to be self-sufficient and carry everything they need on their backs, except the water they need to survive. The average temperature in the desert in the summer is nearly 40 degrees Celsius, but in April it drops into the mid-20s.

The runners get one rest day along the route and have to complete just over 50 miles on the longest day. They camp overnight in a bivouac village.

To donate to Steve's challenge, go to his