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BBC Breakfast‘s Louise Minchin, 52, has long been a a fitness fanatic, taking part in numerous marathons, triathlons and challenges that push her mind and body to the limit, all in the name of fitness. But she admitted she couldn’t have completed her most recent stint doing the Virgin London Marathon in the Cheshire countryside, without her trusty friend Judge Rob Rinder.

Rob was utterly brilliant, encouraging me every step of the way and chivvying me along cheerfully but firmly when I was finding it hard

Louise Minchin

She and the ITV courtroom mediator become bonded for life when they both took part in the 2020 Sports Relief marathon across the Namibian Desert in scorching 48C degree heat.

It was a trial of blood, sweat (literally) and tears but they made it through and a true friendship was born.

This time, they faced weather quite the opposite, as the English countryside gave them torrential storms.

Writing in a recent column, Louise detailed the difficulties they experienced doing their cross country challenge on English soil, all of which left her “collapsed in a heap of pain” at the very end.

The BBC star revealed she was still dead set on completing the infamous marathon, regardless of the run being cancelled to all but elite participants due to coronavirus.

“Not wanting to let down the charity I had agreed to run the London Marathon for, (in my case Age UK), in the early hours of a blustery Sunday morning, I set off along with 45,000 other runners all over the world, to complete 26.2 miles on a course of my choice,” she wrote.

The mum-of-two ended up choosing part of the Sandstone Trail from from Frodsham to Whitchurch in Cheshire.

But while it was a stunning scenic route through the historic plains, it wasn’t a trek for the faint-hearted, so she needed someone with her who could hack it.

“The brilliant thing about the Virtual Marathon was that I was allowed to run it with friends, but who would, and also, could run that distance with me?” she joked, naming the only two people that had the minerals to take on the challenge with her; her friend Laura and Rob.

“Both of them were planning to come, but Laura’s plans were scuppered when she went into local lockdown with three days to go,” Louise explained.

“I was gutted; I knew without someone with me it was going to be an incredibly tough challenge, and all my hopes rested on Rob.”

Louise revealed she almost burst into tears when she saw him get off the train in nearby Chester, glad she wouldn’t be going it alone.

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“What an absolute star. I should have known he wouldn’t let me down,” she gushed.

But the heavy rain didn’t make the trip any easier, causing the ground to become treacherous.

She added: “Rob was utterly brilliant, encouraging me every step of the way and chivvying me along cheerfully but firmly when I was finding it hard.

“After a joyous seven hours and 17 minutes and a last 200-metre sprint I collapsed in a heap of pain, but feeling incredibly blessed to have a friendship forged in the baking hot desert and cemented in the Cheshire countryside.”

Following their big finish, Louise’s BBC colleagues were quick to congratulate them both for completing the gruelling challenge.

Taking to Twitter after the host shared a snap of the pair at the end of the run, weather forecaster Carol Kirkwood replied: “Well done!”

Sports reporter Sally Nugent also cheered: “You did it! Well done!”

BBC Breakfast airs weekdays at 6am on BBC One.

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