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Brit dad robbed at gunpoint during world’s toughest race as muggers threaten to hack off his finger for wedding ring

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A BRIT runner who was robbed at gunpoint during one of the world’s toughest races told how the thugs nearly chopped off his finger for his wedding ring.

Scientist Alasdair Leslie, 48, was left with nothing but his running gear after he was mugged by three armed men two-thirds of the way through the gruelling ultra-marathon in South Africa.

Scientist Alasdair Leslie (right) and South African rival Rickert Mulder were mugged by a gang of gunmen 60 miles into the race

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Scientist Alasdair Leslie (right) and South African rival Rickert Mulder were mugged by a gang of gunmen 60 miles into the raceCredit: Supplied
Defiant Alasdair still managed to finish the gruelling ultra-marathon

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Defiant Alasdair still managed to finish the gruelling ultra-marathonCredit: Supplied
Alasdair was left with nothing but his running gear after everything was stolen

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Alasdair was left with nothing but his running gear after everything was stolenCredit: Supplied

He was competing in the same race as cross country runner Tom Evans, 31, who was due to start until he was brutally mugged while training.

Tom bravely tried to fight off his two robbers but they pulled out an 18in machete and a bush knife and threatened to kill him. 

They stole the athlete’s gold wedding ring, his iPhone and his Garmin watch valued at £2,500 on the contour trail above Table Mountain. 

Tom made the decision to pull out of the RMB Ultra Trail race over safety fears and flew home after wishing his 2,400 fellow competitors a trouble-free race. 

Days later, fellow trail runner Dr Leslie was also targeted by gunmen 21 hours and 60 miles into the mammoth run on Saturday.

Alasdair – a professor with the African Health Research Institute at Oxford University – was running with South African rival Rickert Mulder, 29, near Kommetjie when three men suddenly jumped them. 

Super-fit Alasdair said: “A gun was put right in my face and to be totally honest I thought I was going to die – having a gun held to your head is not pleasant. 

“They were very aggressive and as well as the gun they had knives and made it very clear they would use them if we put up a fight so we just both gave in. 

“My wedding ring had been on for 16 years and would not come off but the robber made it very clear he would cut my finger off so that motivated me a little.

“They took our backpacks with all our equipment and our watches and iPhones and sunglasses leaving us with nothing but our running gear and vanished. 

“Rickert asked what we were going to do and I said I’d be damned if I had just run 60 miles in that blazing heat and not go on and finish the whole race.

“Call it the bulldog spirit if you like but the robbery was over with very quickly and despite having had the living daylights frightened out of us we could still run. 

“At the next aid-station we reported being robbed at gunpoint and requested new back packs and water bottles and with 40 miles to go insisted on finishing.”

Defiant Alasdair continued running and finished in twelfth place in 31hrs and 40mins.

And fellow victim Rickert came in fourteenth in 32hrs and 19mins to huge applause from those at the finish line. 

In the 100-mile extreme race category, 79 runners finished and 40 dropped out with the heat nudging 40C in the day and dropping steeply at night. 

Race Director Stuart McConnachie confirmed three runners were robbed during the race by the same gang near the settlement of Ocean View. 

Alasdair said: “It is a rugged and remote course up and over so many mountains in the scorching heat and to police every one of the 100 miles is near impossible.”

The robbed runners – whose stolen items were valued at £5,000 – reported the crimes to the South African Police.

A spokesman said no arrests had been made yet. 

The three-day Cape Town event runs different distances through the Cape Peninsula with the flagship 100-mile race and 4 races of 100km, 55km, 35km and 25km. 

Alasdair who ran the same race in 2022 came fourteenth overall this year in the 100-mile category and third in the 40 to 49 age group category.

He had set off November 24 at 5pm and finished on November 27 at 1am. 

Great Britain star Tom Evans was robbed on November 17.

Fanatical runner Alasdair lives with wife Georgina and their sons aged 14 and 16 in Oxford and flies monthly to South Africa to carry out TB and HIV research. 

He said: “I’ve been trail running in South Africa for 10 years and have done the Comrades 55-mile marathon 9 times and this was my second 100-mile ultra-run. 

“But as long as the wife doesn’t clip my wings I’ll be back again next year but maybe swap the hi-viz for a bullet proof vest.”

Alasdair (right) and rival Rickert were running side by side when they were robbed

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Alasdair (right) and rival Rickert were running side by side when they were robbedCredit: Supplied
Great Britain cross country runner Tom Evans was also brutally mugged

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Great Britain cross country runner Tom Evans was also brutally mugged

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