After losing his sister to cancer, a man has taken on the scorching heat of the desert to raise thousands for cancer research.

A BARNSTAPLE man has taken part in the ultimate battle of endurance, running 151 miles in the scorching desert heat in memory of his sister.

Steve Shapland, who runs a carpentry and gardening business, describes himself as an ‘average guy’, but took the drastic step of entering the six-day Marathon Des Sables this April to raise money to help fight cancer.

Steve lost his 24-year-old sister Tina to cervical cancer in 1996, and battled 52-degree temperatures across the Sahara desert to raise thousands for Yorkshire Cancer Research.

He said: “I chose this charity because although it is based in Yorkshire, it funds the leading research centres in the UK for cancer.

“Running in the desert was tougher than I could have imagined, I remember at one stage we had to run across this lake which was a six-mile straight, but you couldn’t see the end.

“People were just vanishing in the distance like grains of sand, and it felt like no matter how far you ran, you weren’t moving.

“We ran through sand storms, over rocky hills and mountains; there was even a brief hail storm at one point which was very surreal.”

The 38-year-old has already raised more than £5,000 for the charity, but is hoping to be able to reach is £10,000 target by the end of the year.

Runners had to carry their own equipment weighing around 15kg, and were running for up to 13-and-a-half-hours a day, returning to the UK on April 16.

Steve finished 192nd out of more than 1,000 people, and his wife Chantelle was positively beaming.

She said: “We are so proud of him, we just want everyone to see what a normal person can achieve; it’s amazing.”

Steve is also hoping to use his experience to inspire young people to get active.

He said: “I would love to visit local schools and tell them all about my trip to try and inspire them to get off the sofa, with photographs and maps from the run.

“I am already thinking about my next adventure, but will be working to reach my fundraising target for this event first.”

Anyone interested in contacting Steve or sponsoring his efforts can click the links on the top right of the page.