THESE spectacular images capture the incredible beauty of Europe’s last remaining wilderness - home to epic adventurer Steve Hill as he tackled one of the toughest foot races on earth, the Ice Ultra Marathon.

Taken by photographer Mikkel Beiser, who was assigned to last month's Beyond the Ultimate challenge in Swedish Lapland, they illustrate the brutal environment faced by Steve and his fellow competitors, as well as the stunning snowy scenery and the incredible Northern Lights.

St Joseph's RC Primary deputy head Steve - who spent around 14 hours a day trudging through record snow falls, in -40C temperatures, before snatching a few hours sleep only to repeat the process all over again for five days - cited it as his toughest challenge yet.

Steve finished 11th out of 14 competitors - 24 began the race but 10 were forced to withdraw, suffering from various conditions including hyperthermia and frost nip.

Renowned for his adventurous spirit and worldwide feats, which have raised over £80,000 for charities such as Dr Kershaw's Hospice and Cancer Research UK, he described it as "hellish" and "brutal" at times, saying: "The jungle was tough but it's the cold that's the killer."

But after being lucky enough to witness the Northern Lights phenomenon and experience the warm hospitality of the native Sami people, he says it was a trip he'll never forget and he'll treasure these images as a very special memento of an amazing experience.

"These pictures certainly give you a flavour of the stunning beauty but total isolation out there," said Steve.

"I particularly like the black and white photo - it totally sums up a very long day!

"Mikkel Beiser is an amazing adventure photographer who was with us all week. The pictures are pretty special."