Supermarket worker Dean Thompson swapped the hills of Rivington for the sand dunes of the Sahara desert when he took part in the “toughest foot race on earth”.
The 29-year-old completed the famous Marathon des Sables, running the equivalent of six marathons in six days in searing temperatures up to 51 degrees Celsius.
“Everything went perfectly for me. The kit held up and I feel like that was the fittest I had been.”Dean Thompson
Dean, of Cloverfield, Clayton-le-Woods, said: “It was absolutely out of this world. The feeling when I crossed the line, I can’t really explain in words.”
Dean, a department manager at Asda in Clayton Green, has always been active and first did the Greater Manchester marathon two years ago.
He was keen to do the Marathon des Sables, but places sell out quickly as people enter from around the world.
Dean secured his place while travelling in Australia, but there were no spaces left when he tried to get one for his dad, Mike.
And taking on the challenge meant Dean had to get serious with his training.
He said: “I had seen it years ago but always thought it would be out of reach. When I actually got in, it was real that I was doing it and I got training.
“I like challenges and pushing myself.”
Dean did a lot of his training around Rivington, running four or five times a week.
He had to get used to running with a pack, as he carried a 10.5kg bag filled with clothes, food, a sleeping bag and other essentials during the race.
Dean also prepared for the high temperatures by training in Lanzarote in March and spending an hour in a sauna each night in the week before the run.
But he still had some nerves. He said: “I had never done anything like this before. Running six marathons in six days, I was feeling a bit apprehensive.”
The race went well though, including the longest stage when he ran 58 miles in one day.
Dean said: “I was really fortunate because I was probably one of seven or eight people who didn’t get any blisters whatsoever. It was amazing. I got lucky there.
“Everything went perfectly for me. The kit held up and I feel like that was the fittest I had been.”
Dean took part in the race to support Rosemere Cancer Foundation, after his granddad Cyril was treated there 15 years ago for prostate cancer, and has raised around £2,000.
Over the last four years, Dean and his 62-year-old dad Mike have raised more than £7,500 through feats of endurance, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and South America’s Aconcagua, as well as four Moroccan peaks in eight days. They have also done sponsored rows and races including the Chester marathon and 30-mile White Rose ultra marathon. Dean returned to the UK last week but is certainly not putting up his feet. He ran the Greater Manchester Marathon on Sunday with his Mike and on Friday, the pair will do a sponsored 16-hour row in the foyer at Asda in Clayton Green, starting at 5am.
And Dean is already thinking about his next challenge.
“I have got a few things on the go so I need to decide what I want to do next,” he said.
To support Dean’s fund-raising, go to www.justgiving.com/Dean-Thompson4.