A KILKEEL adventurer who has visited every country in the world is preparing for his most challenging mission to date.
Johnny Ward finished his 10-year journey to reach every country in the world last April.
However, the Mourne native says he refuses to “rejoin normal life” and has remained on the road ever since - with no plans to stop travelling any time soon.
Johnny has managed to visit another 25 countries, as well as completing the North Pole Marathon and climbing Europe’s highest mountain - Mount Elbrus in Russia.
He has also spent time building schools and playgrounds in India and the Philippines, as well as Myanmar and Northern Thailand through his charity, GiveBackGiveAway.
Johnny’s latest challenge will test both his physical and mental endurance as he prepares to train for a six-day marathon in the Sahara Desert.
Marathon des Sables, or MdS, is a 251km ultra marathon and has been described as ‘The Toughest Footrace on Earth’.
The former Kilkeel High pupil said: “The longest single stage of the race is 91km long. It’s in 50-degree heat and you have to carry everything you sleep in, wear and eat for the whole thing!
“I’m convinced that the amount people are willing to suffer is directly correlated to the amount people will achieve. Comfort zones don’t bring us anywhere.
“I hate sand, I hate extreme heat and I don’t like running, so I figured this is one of the hardest things I could do, and I wanted to challenge myself. Also, it’ll keep me focused on fitness for nine months while I train which is also great.”
Johnny, who now lives in Bangkok, hopes by completing the marathon it will inspire others to challenge themselves.
“When I ask people to come along with me, they say it sounds like hell and there’s no chance. I feel exactly the same, but I want to prove to myself I can commit to an event like this and complete it. I hope others will do the same.
“The challenge will take place on 5 April next year and I’m terrified about the pain I’ll be going through. I’m also daunted by the six months of training, but the thought of crossing the finish line keeps me motivated,” he added.
You can find out more about Johnny and his adventures at www.onestep4ward.com