Celebrities break down during gruelling Sport Relief desert challenge
Celebrities broke down as they tackled a punishing Sport Relief challenge by trekking 100 miles across the unforgiving Namib Desert.
Seven stars – including radio DJ Nick Grimshaw, singer Frankie Bridge and TV judge Robert Rinder – attempted to walk and cycle over hostile terrain in searing heat to raise awareness of mental health.
TV presenter Karim Zeroual, journalists Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Louise Minchin and actress Samantha Womack completed the line-up of celebrities trying to reach a shipwreck on Namibia’s infamous Skeleton Coast.
All seven made it to the finish line but endured gruelling conditions on the way.
Their journey was broadcast on Wednesday, with TV viewers watching as BBC Radio 1 presenter Grimshaw was forced to temporarily pull out due to heat exhaustion.
The 35-year-old’s temperature soared past 40C, with medics warning such severe heat stroke could cause brain damage. A normal body temperature is around 37C.
An emotional Grimshaw had to spend a night on a drip before doctors would clear him to return to the challenge.
Saturdays singer Bridge, 31, also faced difficulties. She found the early going tough and fell to the back of the pack during the opening cycle challenge.
The pop star suffered a severe mental health breakdown eight years ago and spent a month in hospital. During the desert challenge she broke down in tears and confided in former EastEnders star Womack: “I can’t do it Sam.”
Womack, a 47-year-old mother of two, admitted: “I found childbirth easier than this”.
Rinder was the first to complete the 23-mile biking challenge, while Womack, Bridge and Guru-Murthy failed to arrive at the finish before the hours of darkness, when the desert is deemed too unsafe to remain.
The second day saw the celebrities trying to walk 25 miles in under 10 hours in temperatures of up to 40C. Viewers were told the challenge was “practically impossible” for normal people to complete.
Rinder was again first to finish – and the only one from the group who managed to cross the line before nightfall.
Day three was a 26-mile trek climbing 19 of the tallest sand dunes in the world.
Rinder thrived again, completing the challenge alongside Minchin. Zeroual also made it, running into camp as the sun was setting.
Speaking that night, Rinder admitted to being surprised his fellow celebrities did not realise the scale of the challenge they had undertaken.
He said: “I think I must be the only person who read the small print. And so I sort of knew this was a kind of ultra-marathon setting. Hard.”
The final challenge was a 15.5-mile bike ride towards the coast, finishing at the Eduard Bohlen shipwreck.
All seven jubilant stars made it to the wreck and after reaching the finish, BBC Breakfast TV host Minchin said: “I feel broken”
With reference to the reason for their Sport Relief challenge, Guru-Murthy called for “a huge amount of resources” to be pumped into mental health.