A FORMER Newport woman who plans to run the equivalent of six marathons across the Sahara Desert in seven days has reached her £5,000 fundraising target.

Nisha Harish, a management consultant whose family still live in the city, will run 50 miles across London this weekend wearing a backpack weighing 12kg, just like she will when she takes part in the Marathon des Sables from April 4-14.

She was inspired to take part by her mother Neena’s battle with cancer and as a result is raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Research.

Her mother is helping by weighing sand into 1kg packages to go in her daughter’s training pack and suggested taking Indian flatbreads for the desert.

“The 50-mile stage is the toughest part of the event,” said the former St Joseph’s pupil about the trek where temperatures can reach up to 50C and dip down below freezing at night. “I’ll have 24 hours to complete more than two marathons in the dark including running up and down sand dunes.”

Miss Harish, 33, and running partner Simon Stead, are currently figuring out which foods they will carry with them during the trek, discarding anything that isn’t calorific enough.

The pair will run the Barcelona Marathon on March 16 as a warm-up and will fly home to the UK the same day.

Miss Harish, who will have completed 20 marathons in three years by the end of the Marathon Des Sables, has also been taping up her feet using duct tape to prevent micro-tears.

The event is the only race in the world that includes an expatriation fee.

“My dad and I watched James Cracknell’s video, The Toughest Race on Earth, and the enormity of what I will be doing hit home,” she said.

“We’ve had conversations about my will and life insurance.

"But his big tip for me was to take chewing gum.”

Miss Harish intends to keep a video diary of her adventure, from her leaving party at work in London to a nightly assessment of how the day’s running has gone, as well as interviewing fellow runners.

“It’s not just about running for me, it’s about the psychological challenge,” said Miss Harish, who sets herself a series of challenges every year, ranging from marathons, stand-up comedy and mountaineering. “I don’t believe in underestimating what we’re all capable of.”

To donate to the cause, visit justgiving.com/Nisha-harish1