A former Buxton teacher has become the first person to run alone from Northern Norway to Southern Spain.
Aleks Kashefi started his mammoth task back in August and returned home to Buxton this week.
He completed the 4,000 mile adventure in just bare feet or sandals because he feels more comfortable running like that.
The 38-year-old said: “It has been amazing there have been so many high points, but also there have been so many times when I questioned why I was even doing this.”
Since he set off 196 days ago, he was running an average of 20 miles a day, crossing rivers, sleeping out in sub-zero conditions all to inspire others out of their comfort zone and to raise money for the Stroke Association, the Thomas Theyer Foundation, and Mountain Rescue England and Wales.
The former Buxton Community School teacher said: “It has been so bizarre, there were times when the scenery looked just like being at home but then other times you were a world a way from anything you knew.”
Four years ago Aleks was not even a runner and struggled to run for 30 seconds. He said: “Running across Europe was never on my radar but you need to keep pushing yourself to get out of your comfort zone and experience something new.
“Being in a different country with just a tent and the food you need is an adventure and I think everyone would benefit from getting away from it all.
“It opens your eyes to what you are capable of.
“When I was teaching the students would come across a problem and just give up because they didn’t know how to tackle it. There were times I felt like that but a change of attitude and perspective makes anything possible.”
During his trek, which has been supported by explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Aleks faced difficulties. On his first day his tent broke and that delayed him by two weeks as he waited for a replacement part.
He said: “It was horrible in the winter when I couldn’t get dry but I didn’t let hold me back.”
During his trip Aleks only spent 28 nights inside, he said: “I checked into a little two-star hotel and washed my clothes but the heating was broken so I ended up running in damp clothes the next day.
“You can be feeling so low but it’s the people who bring you back up. A woman drove past me and then an hour later drove back with a bag of shopping for me which can change a bad day into a happy day.”
Aleks’ first hot meal when he was back in Buxton was a Chinese take-away but he said he had to leave some off it as there was too much.
He has also been for a run with friends and said: “I’ve spent so long on my own it was nice to have a conversation.” He hopes to get back in to teaching and will continue to encourage people to push themselves. To support Aleks charities click here