Three intrepid adventurers braved waist-high stinging nettles, torrential rain and blistering sunshine to complete a gruelling 150-mile charity run spanning the length of the River Wye.
Head of Geography at Monmouth School for Boys, Gerry Stentiford, tackled the six-day challenge along with friends Charlie Newington-Bridges, and Julian Sarsby.
The trio began their trek at Plynlimon in the Cambrian mountains, carrying their food, water and equipment.
They were cheered into Monmouth School for Boys’ Sports Ground by friends and family on Friday afternoon at the end of the penultimate leg.
And the three men, who are raising money for the Wye and Usk Foundation and Ty Hafen children’s hospice, finished where the River Wye joins the Severn in Chepstow last Saturday (2nd June).
The challenge was based on the famous Marathon des Sables, run in the Sahara desert.
Mr Stentiford said: “The toughest part for us was probably the second half of the day when we had to run the length of two marathons. We left Hereford in the rain and got splashed by cars as we ran up a big hill.
“We ran the final three miles in the dark and had to bash our way through waist-high stinging nettles, which was a tough moment for us all.”
Mr Sarsby and Mr Newington-Bridges, who both have children at Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools, praised the support from their families and the help from Finn Mitchell, a personal trainer from Usk.
Chief organiser, Mr Newington-Bridges, added: “A challenge like this takes a lot of forethought and with one or two little hiccups we got across the line.
“Our families have been brilliant putting up with tired husbands and fathers for the past nine months. We did a lot of training and our families have been incredibly supportive.”
The trio covered the equivalent of four marathons and one double marathon in the inaugural Marathon Des Salmon.
Mr Sarsby said: “Navigation was tough and the weather on the first day was very challenging because we had just 10 or 15 yards visibility due to torrential rain.”
The friends have received donations from, among others, Wye Valley Brewery and Brewin Dolphin.
The trio are holding a corporate dinner to raise further funds on Saturday 23rd June.
Mr Newington-Bridges said: “The River Wye is a beautiful river with major economic and environmental implications for us all.
“We wanted to take on the challenge of running it for the first time to raise awareness for these good causes. We thank all the supporters who helped and joined us along the route.”
Asked whether the friends would attempt to tackle Marathon Des Salmon again, Mr Newington-Bridges replied: “There is a plan but it feels a long way off. I think we all need a lot of rest and recuperation. But we will never say never.”