Former Sidmouth college student completes six marathons across desert in five days

Tim at the first check point in the Vally of the Moon.

Tim at the first check point in the Vally of the Moon. - Credit: Archant

Former Sidmouth College student, who presents on Bear Grylls show, raises money for Macmillan Cancer Support

Tim in one of the gorges he passed along the way.

Tim in one of the gorges he passed along the way. - Credit: Archant

A professional outdoor adventure instructor completed a ‘brutal’ six marathons in five days across Chile’s Atacama desert has raised £2,500 for charity,

Former Sidmouth College student Tim Treloar, who is also a presenter on ITV’s Bear Grylls’ Survival School, was inspired to take on the mammoth mission in a bid to raise money for Macmillian Cancer Support - a cause which helped both of his parents.

The 33-year-old spent almost a week running, jogging, walking and crawling his way across one of the largest, hottest, driest and most inhospitable places in the world.

Tim had to endure incessant heat, across soft sand and hard-packed gravel, endless salt flats and sand dunes multiple stories high while trying to avoid snakes and climb down razor-sharp rocky cliffs. He carried a 12kg pack of supplies on his back - the equivalent in weight of five bags of sugar.

Tim just leaving Death Vally.

Tim just leaving Death Vally. - Credit: Archant


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Each day, Tim, who grew up in Sidmouth and now lives in Cheltenham, had to drink 13 litres of water and take 25 salt tablets. The challenge saw him burn between 8,000 and 9,000 calories every day. He said: “Replacing calories was difficult given the weight that carrying food posed and the fact my body just didn’t want food. I lost a stone in the five days - and four toenails - due to the effects of the run. There was definitely blood, sweat and tears along the way.

“At one point a thorn from a desert bush went half an inch through my foot, penetrating my running shoes, however, my feet were so numb that it was only at the end of the stage that I managed to take the thorn out of my foot.”

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According to Time magazine, the challenge is among the top 10 toughest endurance events in the world - pushing those who attempt it to their absolute limit.

To complete the expedition, Tim ran 250km in five days across the desert, at an altitude of 3,500 meters, reaching temperatures as high 40C.

Tim said, because of the high altitude and heat, the first few days were especially brutal on his lungs. He added that the expedition was broken down into five stages, with the fifth stage culminating in a double marathon.

Tim said he would start the day at around 5.30am by eating a large amount of porridge. During the first stage, he navigated his way through 38km of mountains and desert rock.

The following day, he covered 44km running through endless cannons - avoiding snakes basking in the sun. The day after consisted of 40km along the Atacamenos trail and numerous tough sand dunes.

During the fourth stage, Tim had to endure a further 44km crossing the Sar De Atacama salt flats.

“When it got to 2pm it felt like an endless oven with the intense heat, the salt flats were extremely tricky to run on and progress was slow, rather like running on rock pools,” said Tim.

“The last stage was the hardest. Having run four marathons over the desert the previous days, my body was still trying desperately to recover. This day saw a distance of 80km, or two marathons straight, starting at 8am and finishing at 11.50pm.

“By the end I was a broken man in every sense. Running distances like that is less about physical endurance, although it plays a big part, than mental endurance, thinking of family and friends who have supported and are behind you gives you a belief that whatever the task, you can succeed.”

Tim thanked all those who supported his cause, especially Mark Seward at Dukes in Sidmouth.

Visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/tim-treloar-2 to donate.

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