Nine friends from Buckinghamshire have pledged to take on a 31-mile race through the North African desert to raise money for Blood Cancer UK.

Jim, Ollie, Matt, Harry, Joe, James, Johny, Aydin and Finley, who are all between 25 and 26-years-old and grew up together in Marlow, have vowed to “cross the finish line together” in an arduous race through the Ouarzazate desert in Morroco tomorrow, November 5.

The young men are taking on the challenge in honour of the father of their close friend, Jasmine Handford, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare form of blood cancer in 2019.

Aydin Hepsaydir, Jasmine’s housemate who was the first to enrol for the ‘Ultra-X’ race, said that after “smashing” their original £5,000 target, the group was “overwhelmed” by the number of donations their fundraiser is continuing to receive.

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He added: “As a group, we are definitely not natural runners, so we thought this would be the perfect way to challenge ourselves. Some of us have also been friends for nearly 20 years, so I’m sure it will be incredibly emotional finishing the event as a team.”

Jasmine said: ““I am so proud of the team for taking on this incredible challenge, and it has been made all the more special by their decision to raise money for Blood Cancer UK who are so close to my heart.

“The boys have smashed their initial fundraising target, and it will be brilliant to see the money they raise be translated into positive impact for people affected by blood cancer. I am very grateful to call each of them my friend, and I am sending the team all the luck in the world ahead of the race!”