A PRESTATYN running novice has tackled a marathon in the 40C heat to help poverty stricken children in rural Africa.

Father of two Luke Gratton has just returned from a life-changing Muskathlon adventure in Kenya with child development charity Compassion UK to help fund nutritious meals, emotional support, medical attention and education opportunities.

After taking up running just 12 months ago, Luke joined 55 intrepid team-mates from across the UK to complete the 26 mile trail over perilous rough terrain with rocks, potholes - and even a river crossing - in an impressive time of 5 hours and 20 minutes.

Luke said: “I deliberately made sure I didn’t start at too fast a pace. It got up to 44C during the challenge and you could feel the heat radiating off the mud.

“I’ve always played sport but I wasn’t a runner so it’s been a challenge to get up to marathon distance, however I’ve developed a love for running."

The 38 year old, a visual producer for npower and, began training with 5k runs in his lunch-breaks after being issued the challenge by wife Karen, before gradually moving onto 10k runs and half marathons, setting himself a loop route around the town and beach in Prestatyn and Rhyl.

“My wife signed me up encouraging me to go on an adventure after completing the Muskathlon Challenge herself last year. I love the Muskathlon mantra – to live for a cause bigger than your own.”

To date Luke has raised almost £2,000 to support children living in poverty in Kenya.

In addition, his supporters have sponsored two children in Kenya, and Luke and his family have also sponsored a six-year-old boy named Boaz with £25 a month with which he’s already been able to start school.

Whilst in Kenya Luke visited Boaz and his family at home, taking a pack of gifts from his own family and also the Alive Church in Prestatyn – including colouring books, pencils and a teddy - even a Welsh flag.

Luke reflected: “It was humbling to see that £25 - equivalent to a meal out here in Wales - can make such a huge difference to a child and their entire family each month.

“Eight of them live in a corrugated iron shack and the dad struggles to bring in money as they don’t have any land. We tried to put a smile on Boaz’s face and give his family hope for the future.

“You can see adverts and news reports about poverty but you need to see it to fully appreciate the conditions people are living in.”

The 2019 Muskathlon for Compassion UK takes place in Rwanda in East Africa next June.

Luke added: “Definitely step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to live for a cause bigger than yourself. Be prepared for your whole world to be rocked, but that’s not a bad thing.”