A MOUNTAIN rescue assistant team leader is set to tackle 268 miles of the toughest terrain the north has to offer.

Fifty-three year-old Al Pepper has the Montane Spine Race, along the backbone of the Pennines, firmly in his sights.

Competitors are given up to a week to tackle the ultra endurance race, which winds its way from Edale to Kirk Yetholm, in the Scottish Borders.

But MoD manager Al, who lived in Blackburn for 15 years before moving to Bacup, has been warming up with a leisurely 55-miler in the Cheviot Hills.

His energy-sapping effort is all geared towards securing a new field ambulance for the Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue team (RPMRT)

He said: "It has probably been at least a year's worth of work to get this far - there's a lot of physical training but there's also the kit preparation more than anything else."

Depending on the conditions, the high attrition rate for the race can see just 30 per cent of entrants last the course.

Al has completed the challenger race along the spine before now, which in itself clocks in at 108 miles.

Earlier today his colleagues from RPMRT provided cover for fellow mountain rescue teams as the event passed through Blackstone Edge, near Littleborough.

Asked if he had a target in mind for his own expedition, Al added: "I'm just looking for a finish really. You can plot your own course so we'll see how it goes.

"There are a lot of people who think it's going to be a race but it's more like an expedition. My average speed will probably be around three or four kilometres an hour."

Tomorrow at 8am Al should be lining up alongside 166 others, with a smattering of Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Irish and American ultra-runners also signed up.

If you would like to support Al's run, which is part of a £56,000 appeal, go online to www.justgiving.com/RPMRT