Spencer Matthews to run 30 marathons in 30 days - all through scorching desert

Former reality TV personality Spencer Matthews is preparing to attempt a new Guinness World Record by running 30 marathons in 30 days - through scorching temperatures in the Jordanian desert.

The 35-year-old is now an endurance athlete, podcaster and entrepreneur, and has previously completed three ultramarathons in the Amazon Rainforest as well as the Arctic.

He has also taken part in the Marathon des Sables, dubbed the "toughest footrace on Earth" - a seven-day, 250km-ultramarathon in the Sahara Desert.

And he's about to undertake the equivalent of five of those, back-to-back.

"I think I will come out of this quite different", he said.

Matthews spoke to Sky News about his latest endeavour, running 786 miles completely on sand, and in temperatures likely to average in the mid-forties.

He will start near the Wadi Rum on the edge of the Arabian Desert and finish near the Dead Sea - nothing of this kind has ever been done before.

To meet the world record criteria, Matthews must stay on sand and only sand - a layer of sand over a field of grass would not qualify, for example - and all marathon runs must be finished within six hours.

Sharing his inspirations, he nodded to Dan Lawson, who ran the Brighton Marathon eight times back to back in 2012, Pete Kostelnick, who crossed the US by foot, and Camille Herron, who recently ran 900km in six days.

History with alcohol

"I think when considering a challenge like this, there are obviously very personal elements to it… in this case, there's also hopefully a large charitable element to it as well," Matthews said, referring to his alcohol abuse throughout his 20s.

"When you finish [ultramarathons] there's this kind of beautiful sense of accomplishment, and it's a nice feeling that is very personal, particularly if you've come from a place of abusing alcohol for many years and feeling somewhat ashamed of yourself.

"I sometimes think of myself a few years ago, and I get a kind of sickly feeling. It helps me continue driving forwards.

"I sometimes think about the days where I used to drink whisky really early in the day and find any excuse to have a drink, and would drink daily. And I look back at those times and I struggle to understand.

"I don't think me now and myself five, 10 years ago would even be friends. We'd have nothing in common."

'I could have died'

Matthews, who before his career in TV was a city trader in London, has previously admitted he "could have died" at the height of his drinking in his 20s.

Speaking to his wife, Irish model and TV presenter Vogue Williams, on her podcast Taboo Talk earlier this year, he said: "It's not like I just fancied giving up drinking. I could have lost you, I could have lost work, I could have died - not to be overly dramatic about it, but that's the way it was heading."

The father-of-three has made a huge personal and physical transformation in recent years and has reflected on the difference in how his family treated him while he was struggling with alcohol.

"I've noticed a big difference in how my own family treat me," he said.

"I kind of at one point felt like a bit of an outsider in my own family. I actually felt like there was a lack of trust towards me, which was probably warranted.

"You know, I'm not complaining or whinging because I'm a very privileged person, but my relationship with alcohol was pretty dark at times.

"It was disheartening to see my own family think very little of me at one point, and now I enjoy a kind of very balanced relationship with alcohol. And by 'balanced' I mean I very rarely drink.

"I'm sure I'll enjoy a cold beer at the end of the challenge, you know, if we're successful."

Gruelling training and medical observation

Matthews has set himself a target of raising £1m for Global's Make Some Noise charity, which funds grassroots projects and gives small charities a chance to reach over 26.6 million weekly listeners across its radio brands.

During the record attempt, he will have a team with him including a doctor to ensure he is monitored, paying particular attention to his heart rate and internal body temperature.

In 2021, the podcaster came 69th out of 840 people in the Marathon des Sables, which that year had a drop-out rate of over 75%.

His preparation consists of weight training, long-runs and using a heat chamber - to replicate the gruelling conditions he will soon be facing.

Wife 'thought he was joking'

The Great Desert Challenge seems an insurmountable feat - and his wife Vogue thought the same.

"When I first told her that I was planning 30 marathons in 30 days… she thought I was joking," Matthews said.

"And then when she realised I was being serious, her exact words were 'but that could kill you'."

Matthews will be sleeping in a tent and has partnered with supplements brand Heights, as he says that no matter how balanced your diet may be, 30 marathons require some extra help and risk management.

Heights co-founder Dan Murray-Serter said the supplements will play a "crucial role in aiding Spencer's daily recovery".

"I've covered over 2,000km, in preparation for the challenge, which is kind of a challenge in itself, I suppose", Matthews said, laughing.

"On the larger days you burn over 7,000 calories. So, you've got to replace those. You've got to be thinking about your nutrition a little bit more than you would do ordinarily."

Matthews doesn't expect to inspire others in the way he has been by other ultramarathon runners, but if this does just that for one person, then "that would be amazing".

"I've got kind people in the street shouting, good luck with the challenge," he added.

"So it feels like I'll have a lot of people on the journey with me, which I think will be more than I bargained for."