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Bertie Portal (D775-GBR)


Bertie is a British actor who has starred in Ocsar-winning films including The King’s Speech and The Iron Lady. He’s also acted in Dr Who and Ashes to Ashes too. He’s no stranger to extreme feats having rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in 2012 and he’s been making great in-roads into his fitness over the past 18 months under the coaching and diet of compatriot Rory Coleman (for whom this is his 11th participation in the MARATHON DES SABLES).

It’s harder than I imagined it would be! The weight of my backpack had to come off after the first day so the puddings have had to go and the stove too. The first day was wonderful, though it’s been physically more gruelling than I thought. Unlike my Atlantic row, it’s not something your body can get used to in such a short time frame. It’s still in shock now. I thought I’d be quicker but my feet are fine and physically I feel good. You just concentrate on getting from one checkpoint to the next and once you get there you just hunt for a little corner of shade. I think my training peeked last summer but my stubbornness, bloody-mindedness and selfishness should get me through! I feel bad that I’ve been spending my weekends and spare time training rather than being with my family – they’ve been incredibly supportive. It’s great to have an adventure though and here you have such a sense of belonging and the camaraderie has been phenomenal.

The ‘stubbornness and bloody-mindedness’ seems to have paid off with Bertie completing the long stage of the 29th Marathon des Sables this morning after nearly 20 hours of effort in an intense heat. A fantastic performance! A further boost for his motivation has been running to raise money for the Rainbow Trust, which is a wonderful charity for children who are terminally ill. “Rainbow will look after the rest of the family, do the washing, shopping, take the brothers and sisters to school, swimming, etc., all the unglamorous jobs that make up the day to day routine, so that the parents are free to spend time with that child. I love this idea. I’ve met some of the children and their parents and you have to have a heart of stone not to be affected. My mother is a patron of Rainbow, so I’ve known about it for years. It’s a little charity that deserves to be more widely known, which is where I come in,” he says.