A PENARTH man who has already run around Wales twice, 2,000 miles across America and 100 miles in 24 hours is set for his toughest challenge yet.
Rhys Jenkins, who has raised thousands of pounds for charity through a number of long distance events, is set to run 135 miles through Death Valley National Park in America in aid of Velindre Cancer Centre on the weekend of September 6.
Temperatures can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius with the humidity peaking between 80 and 90 per cent in the Nevada desert, with the tarmac hot enough to melt trainers.
“It will be like running in a sauna from anything between 30 to 40 hours,” said Rhys.
“To demonstrate how hot it is going to be they advise to run on the yellow road markings because the black tarmac will melt the souls of your trainers.”
Rhys, who was selected as an Olympic Torchbearer thanks to his fundraising efforts, is hoping to complete the run in less than 40 hours.
His friend John Ortiz, who ran across America with him from Boston to Austin, will be driving a support vehicle and cheering him along the way.
Rhys, who works for Red Recruitment, described the infamous ultra run as “legendary” and said that he had always wanted to do it.
The Badwater 135 race through Death Valley National Park has been temporarily suspended for this year whilst a safety review is conducted, but Rhys has chosen to run the route regardless.
“It’s the only way to get around it,” he said.
“I would like to do under 40 hours, but it depends if I blow up in the heat.
“I don’t know what it’s going to be like, but I know it’s going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
In the past year alone Rhys has been part of a relay team that cycled 1,000 miles for Paris to Rome, even after thieves stole their support vehicle and nearly all of their kit and equipment, run the Cardiff Half Marathon (both in aid of the For Luca charity), and cycled 100 miles from Cardiff to Tenby in aid of Velindre Cancer Centre.
Former Stanwell School pupil Rhys, 26, said he has been trying to prepare himself for the heat of Death Valley by doing exercises in the sauna for up to an hour at a time.
“I take water breaks in between exercising, but it’s about getting my body used to the heat,” he said.
He has also been running twice a day and working out in the gym in a bid to build up his core fitness.
“It’s going to be like a sauna 80 per cent of the time,” he said.
“I have been training for it for about three or four months now.
“I have been buying loads of white kit to reflect the sun too."
Rhys has been inspired to run the route in aid of the Velindre Cancer Centre after his uncle Des was recently diagnosed with cancer.
“He has been in and out of Velindre Cancer Centre for the past few months now and continues to suffer. I just want to show my support and do it in honour of him. All proceeds raised will be going directly to the Velindre Cancer Centre to help continue the great work they do.”
Rhys added that he would like to thank Red Recruitment for donating £500 to his fundraising, and Pro Health and Nutrition in Penarth for providing him with electrolyte drinks
Rhys can be sponsored at https://www.justgiving.com/DeathValley135/