Gruelling Sahara run raises nearly £7,000

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A radio presenter who swapped his studio for the searing heat of the Sahara says he ‘absolutely loved’ the gruelling physical challenge.

BBC Newcastle’s Total Sport presenter Simon Pryde, 40, ran 155 miles over six days in temperatures that reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit as part of the Marathon de Sables in April.

With all the sponsorship money now collected, his admirable completion of the toughest foot race on Earth has raised a grand total of £6,900 for two charities close to his heart. He has donated £3,450 each to the Alzheimer’s Society and WaterAid.

Born in Alnwick and originally from Lowick, Simon is a former Berwick Middle and Berwick High School pupil.

He now lives in Newcastle, but some of his year-long training programme for the event took place on Cheswick Sands when visiting family in Lowick.

Although it could not replicate the Sahara, running long distances on the sand in Northumberland was useful preparation. But the heat and pain was something none of the participants could fully prepare for.

“In some ways it was what I expected it to be because it was as hot as I expected and I knew how far it was, but in other was I couldn’t have envisaged how difficult it was,” he said.

“It was absolutely gruelling. The highest temperature was on the second last day when it got up to 54C degrees.

“It just completely saps your energy, especially when you’re carrying all you gear on your back. You resort to... well, it’s not even a run, you’re just shuffling along.”

Three months on, his body has recovered. Although he ‘might try something different next time’, Simon can look back on his achievement with pride and satisfaction.

“I absolutely loved it. It was all worth it,” he said. “I really enjoyed it, despite it being as tough as it was.

“There was a really good camaraderie. I was sharing a tent with another seven people, so we were living in each other’s pockets.

“You have to build up a camaraderie. There were lots people doing it for similar reasons and raising money for other charities.”

Ever since his grandmother, Audrey, died in a Berwick nursing home in the 1990s, he has had a desire to help the Alzheimer’s Society.

“I’ve always wanted to do something for that charity as a result of that,” he added.

“I have a good understanding and appreciation of how this illness affects people and their nearest and dearest.

“I am proud that I am able to support a charity that supports people like my Granny.”

Simon was a special guest at the recent Northumbrian WaterAid Ball, which raised £17,200 for the charity.

WaterAid saves lives in Africa, Asia, the Pacific and central America by providing people with a tap, toilet and hygiene education.

Simon added: “I am so proud that I will help to save 230 lives. WaterAid is a fantastic charity.”