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A chef who spends his weekdays cooking with flames is spending his weekends leaping through them as training for a series of hardcore obstacle races set to kick off this summer.

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Markus Pieterse, who lives in Surrey Quays, is in training for the Spartan Race UK series, which sees competitors discover their inner warriors by jumping over fires, plunging into ice pits, and wading through muddy channels laced with barbed wire.

The 26-year-old plans to compete in seven races this year.

Markus, who works at the dining club at the celeb haunt Soho House, said: “I was really bored with running and my first Spartan race changed my whole lifestyle.

“Taking part in a Spartan Race is all about the rush. You’re competing against others, pushing yourself. The high you get is amazing.”

Markus’s first race of 2013 will take place at Pippingford Park, a country estate in Sussex, on August 25.

The races are the brainchild of former Royal Marine Commando Richard Lee, and the 30-year-old says Markus and the other competitors will find the course “savagely tough”.

Richard said Markus and the other competitors would find the course “savagely tough”.

The 30-year-old said: “Pippingford Park is horrible.

“The mud there is out of this world. There are endless amounts of stagnant pools of water and bogs, very steep hills, and thick, dense, thorny undergrowth – it’s perfect, and positively Jurassic!”

Last year, 25,000 runners became “Spartan warriors” and the seven races this year are expected to draw about 40,000 UK entrants.

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