Brecon man prepares for 380 mile Arctic Challenge at USW

Des Lally - environmental chamber

A Brecon man who scaled South Wales’ biggest mountain, Pen y Fan, every day for a year is set to brave the Arctic.

Des Lally will pull on his walking boots to take part in the 6633 Arctic Ultra, a 380-mile non-stop race on foot to raise funds for Cancer Research UK and Help for Heroes.

The 44-year-old will start the gruelling, self-sufficient, challenge, on 27 February and finish on the famous Arctic Circle nine days later. This extreme, ultra-marathon is regarded by many as the toughest, coldest, windiest ultra-distance footrace on the planet.

To help him prepare for the minus 40°C Arctic weather, Des spent time in an environmental chamber at USW’s Glyntaff Campus in Pontypridd, which can simulate high altitude, low pressure and low oxygen scenarios. BSc Sport and Exercise Science students and MSc Sport, Health and Exercise Science students monitored the effects a freezing environment had on his body.

Des said: “The chamber itself was amazing. It’s just given me an idea, and an insight into when I get out there, when those temperatures do arise, that I’ve experienced this before and it’s not going to be such a shock.” 

Des who last year raised over £60,000 for charities Cancer Research UK and Help for Heroes by climbing Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons 365 times in one year, is hoping to raise even more money.

Des said: “I’ve never done anything like this, and I am particularly nervous about the freezing conditions. I feel like I have done everything I can to prepare and I feel mentally and physically ready for the challenge ahead.

“The two charities are really close to my heart. The courage shown by people going through cancer keeps me inspired. When I think of what they go through and just how many lives are affected by it, I think I want to keep going to raise even more money. I have so much respect for members of the armed forces. I want to help these two fantastic charities to continue their invaluable work.”