Avid runner Lee Maddison was devastated when doctors told him he would never run a marathon after a motocross accident left him with a broken leg.
But 13 years later the 35-year-old is embarking on the Marathon de Sables in the Sahara desert, touted as one of the hardest foot races on the planet.
The runner, from Whitley Bay, is competing in the ultramarathon on behalf of St Oswald’s Hospice and he will be the first person to achieve a Gold Life List award.
He defied medical science to regain his running ability after his right leg was shattered in 16 places in 2001.
During his journey he has raced in some of the world’s most gruelling endurance events including the 69-mile Wall Run and three Iron Man Challenges.
But he means to end his running career with the Saharan challenge.
Speaking before his final race in the scorching heat of North Africa, Lee said: “The injury happened quite a few years ago when I smashed both my tibia and fibula, my right leg is two inches shorter than my left and I’ve still got plates all the way through.
“I went through the university hospital first and was in a wheelchair for eight months, unfortunately I got an infection in my leg and was really ill for about a year.
“I was still trying to train in the gym and on one occasion a guy stopped and asked about what happened. He explained he was a specialist in both tibia and fibula below the knee, and invited me to Newcastle General Hospital.
“I went to see him the next day and I told him my story, after he put plates in my lower leg I remember him saying to me what are you going to do now that I’ve fixed your leg?
“I said I’d love to run a marathon, he looked shocked and said to me you will never run a marathon but you’ll be alright and be able to get on with your life.’’
Those words still ring in his ears every time he crosses the start line, spurring him on in the most difficult periods during each race.
Since the rehabilitation Lee has done 10 marathons, eight half marathons, 70 mile plus single day road races, three Iron Man races and also boxed at a competitive level for almost five years.
“I did my first marathon about six years ago it took me a long time to get ready my first one was in 2006.
“I was 22 when I had the accident - the first one I did was the Great North Run. I’ve done the Edinburgh marathon and a 69-mile non-stop run in Carlisle, which I came in 17th place out of 800.’’
However, the relentless runner says he is calling time on his illustrious career in endurance running to focus on family life since the birth of his daughter eight months ago.
“I’m probably going to go back into roofing as I’ve just had a little girl so the time scales for endurance training is too much. You can’t be doing four hour back to back runs everyday for a week with a young child or a job,’’ he said.