Running the country with the Dirty Sanchez boys

No strangers to crazy ideas, the Pritchard brothers set themselves the ambitious challenge to swim Windermere, cycle down the country and run to Wales. Here's how it went...

Matthew Pritchard takes on a triathlon

“We wanted a bit of a harder challenge really,” says Matthew Pritchard, telling 220 why he and his brother Adam decided to swim Britain’s biggest lake, Windermere, then bike and run their way back home to Cardiff – a total journey of around 280 miles.

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No stranger to pain thanks to his time on hit TV show Dirty Sanchez, Matthew’s recently got into endurance sports in a big way, running the London Marathon twice and finishing Ironman UK in 13 and a half hours. For this latest challenge, he and Adam were raising money for the charity Ty Hafan, which offers support to life-limited children in the South Wales area, and so far they’ve managed to raise over £1,000 on their fundraising page.

“I’m a professional skateboarder and I have been for years, then Dirty Sanchez came along and my bank account was full of money, and there were lots of parties and everything, and I lost interest in keeping fit and healthy. I just ballooned with booze and various other things. I took one look at myself and said, ‘Christ, what’s happened to me?’ So I basically decided to run the Cardiff half marathon and it went from there really. I started entering marathons, triathlons, Ironmen, and now this.”

The low point on their challenge? “Jumping into that lake at 6am and realising that it wasn’t as warm as I thought it was going to be! Even with the wetsuit on I went, ‘Ah for f***s sake, what I have done now.’ I thought it would be alright, I would warm up, but then a mile in I still hadn’t warmed up, I think the water was 15 degrees, it took us seven hours and eleven minutes, and we never warmed up once. But once you get into your stride it’s amazing.”

“The water was calm, the day was calm, the only problem really was the cold, and I hate being cold. After swimming ten and a half miles me and my brother both tried to get out of the water at the same time, the two of us just fell back in because our legs weren’t working. It dawned on me then, ‘Ah sh** we’ve got to cycle 250 miles now, how are we going to do that if we can’t even stand up?’”

After climbing into their support van for a quick two-hour kip, the brothers ate some chips and hit the bike, managing to knock off 85 miles before calling it a day and going to sleep on the side of the road. They then woke up the next day, finished the rest of the bike and embarked on the run…. But were forced to quit halfway through through “sheer and utter exhaustion”, says Matthew.

“We were absolutely f***ed, I was tripping, I was seeing things. We could have kept going, but our support guys had to go to work the next day, and it was about 2 o’clock in the morning and they had to be at work at 7am, so basically we called it a day at 16 miles, I got home, put my head on the bed and went to sleep for quite a while. That bed was so welcome!” 

Their next challenge? “That was basically just a little practice run,” he says. “We eventually want to swim the Channel, cycle France, run Spain and then catch a ferry to Ibiza and get smashed. We are in the process of finding a sponsor who will help fund the project, so if there is anyone out there who’s willing to sponsor us and get us up and running that would be great!”

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(All images: Warren Peace Pitt Photography. Video: Burning Chariot)