An Oldham school teacher and prolific fundraiser has reflected on his 'magical' journey as he completed a mammoth 'month of marathons' challenge through jungles and mountains.

Steve Hill MBE, a prolific fundraiser, has touched back down on home soil having completed 14 marathons through treacherous terrain last month - all in the name of charity.

During the school holidays, Steve set himself the mega challenge which saw him complete marathons back-to-back along the coast of Costa Rica and the mountains of Tajikistan.

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The deputy head at St Joseph's School in Shaw is a renowned charity fundraiser in Oldham and even cofounded his own charity, Team Hill Charitable Trust, which helps support local causes in the borough and an educational project in Uganda.

The Oldham Times: The deputy head estimates he's run 37 marathons so far, which includes ultra marathonsThe deputy head estimates he's run 37 marathons so far, which includes ultra marathons (Image: Steve Hill)

Working hard for the charity, Steve is no stranger to extreme challenges, having completed many marathons before (an estimated 37 in total) and trekked on various expeditions - the stories of which are told in his book, 'What's Next, Sir?'

However, his 'month of marathons' through extreme weather conditions and terrain across two different continents this August was his biggest challenge yet.

Finishing up on August 31 and arriving home to a special welcome party on September 2 - just days before work resumed at school - Steve spoke to Oldham Community Radio 99.7 fm about his "epic" journey.

Though glad to be back home and crucially in his own bed, Steve said he had an "amazing adventure".

He completed his first seven marathons running coast-to-coast along Costa Rica, from the Pacific coast to the Caribbean, where he ran for eight to nine hours every day in humid conditions of around 30 to 35C.

The Oldham Times: The stunning but totally different scenes - from the jungle to the mountainsThe stunning but totally different scenes - from the jungle to the mountains (Image: Steve Hill)

Steve said the terrain was "pretty jungle-y" and "dense" and described the draining humidity as "like having a big blanket around you".

He continued: "There was a path we were running across, crossing rivers, but predominately jungle, going over mountains within the jungle so a little of altitude as well, but just taking in the amazing scenery.

"Pushing on one step at a time, one day at a time and just enjoying that journey."

Each night, Steve would camp in a tent on stilts to "avoid the snakes and spiders" at night while refuelling on rice and beans.

He said he tried not to eat anything "too exotic" to avoid stomach issues and his main motivation came from messages of support from home and letters from the children in his class at school.

The Oldham Times: Steve made some friends along the waySteve made some friends along the way (Image: Steve Hill)

Steve continued: "It was great to know people were following, it meant the world to me.

"There are some wonderfully supportive and motivational comments, but also before leaving school in July, the children in my class had all written letters of motivation for me to open each day and they were very special, to know they were always with me in spirit and the people of Oldham."

Steve then flew over to Tajikistan in the eastern hemisphere to take on his next seven marathons - again in hot 40C "dry" heat but in a more mountainous and rocky terrain.

He explained: "It was ridiculous the heat we were running in."

Steve did briefly fly back to Manchester from Costa Rica, to repack his bags and get rid of his "wet smelly" jungle gear before making his way to Tajikistan, which included a 17-hour journey by car to Rasht and the Bartang valley.

He said this part of the journey was "an experience in itself" as they endured a long day across roads that "leave a little bit to be desired" with sheer drops into the valley.

The Oldham Times: Steve said he had an epic and magical journeySteve said he had an epic and magical journey (Image: Steve Hill)

He continued: "That was quite a hairy journey but we arrived safely and that was the start of our next adventure. 

"I think I was on autopilot at the point, I was in challenge mode and just dealing with whatever was thrown at me.

"I already had seven marathons already in my legs and the next adventure ahead of me."

When taking on Tajikistan, Steve said it was a "spectacular place" and "unspoilt" though admitted it was "bizarre" at first because the other side of the Bartang river was Afghanistan - where he could see the Taliban.

He continued: "It was about 50 metres away and you could see the Taliban and Taliban flag.

"It was just a bizarre experience. 

The Oldham Times: It was only on the last leg of the journey - the 14th marathon - that Steve developed some painIt was only on the last leg of the journey - the 14th marathon - that Steve developed some pain (Image: Steve Hill)

"Just to see them with their bikes and their rifles over their shoulder and images you've seen on the news many times, just 50 metres away, was a strange, strange feeling.

"But it felt very safe."

Steve also said he made some friends along the way, including with some Russian drivers who would shout words of encouragement such as "strong Steve" as he ran along.

He added: "It was quite endearing and at the end of the trip, I shared a few vodkas with them."

On the last leg of his journey, on marathon 14, Steve said he did develop some shin pain and swollen feet but he said there was "no option" but to push on.

Steve then made the gruelling journey back home when he was greeted by a welcome party on Saturday (September 2) with friends, balloons and banners.

When asked by Oldham Community Radio what keeps him going, Steve said it boils down to having a "good, strong mindset".

The Oldham Times: The deputy head estimates he's run 37 marathons so far, which includes ultra marathonsThe deputy head estimates he's run 37 marathons so far, which includes ultra marathons (Image: Steve Hill)

He explained: "I just call it 'switching into challenge mode'.

"When I set my sights on something, I'm determined to finish it, wherever it may take me through and it is quite painful sometimes like my last marathon but I have little mantras like, one step at a time, one mile at a time, and getting to checkpoints which take me through to the end of that day.

"I split these big undertakings into small, manageable chunks and celebrate little successes.

"The children at school are a massive motivation to me - they believe in Sir and I don't want to let them down and I take on these challenges to inspire and motivate those guys and to show them self-belief, hard work, determination and not to give up when things get tough and that anything in life is possible.

"That's the big message."

Referring back to some "eerie" moments and scary thoughts, such as fears he had lost the path or his head torch would go out when running in the dark, or realising he was "absolutely in the middle of nowhere", he said he kept going in an "instinctive direction".

"It's all a part of the adventure - it's living life to the fullest and living your best life in adventures that do take you out of your comfort zone.

"I do think it's important to come out of our comfort zones and push boundaries to see what we're actually capable of because I'm a firm believer that we're all capable of much more than we ever realised.

"When we come out of our comfort zones, we experience that magic in life and that is certainly what I've experienced."

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