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South America run challenge ends

A British couple are "mentally and physically exhausted" after becoming the first to run the length of South America, by completing a marathon almost every day for 15 months.

Katharine and David Lowrie, both 35, from Devon, began their mammoth 6,400 miles journey at the southern tip of Chile on the opening day of the London Olympics last year, and finally reached the Caribbean Sea on Venezuela's northern coast yesterday.

The record-breaking feat took them through Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil with their constantly changing environment ranging from mountains, jungle and coasts, battling sweltering heat, snow, ice and knee-deep mud .

Crowds gathered to cheer on the couple at Carupano as they completed their 5,000 Mile Project, launched to raise money and awareness for wildlife and conservation issues.

"We have been dreaming of the moment we reach the end and can jump into the Caribbean Sea every day since we started, so to finally have reached that point is amazing - it hasn't really sunk in yet," Mrs Lowrie said.

"We were warned many times about the dangers of running alone through some of the towns but thankfully we didn't have any trouble, just a lot of sore ankles and knees.

"It was dream that we were determined to finish."

Mr Lowrie said he and his wife decided to take on the challenge because they felt they needed to pay their "rent" for living on the planet.

Throughout their unsupported journey the pair took turns to pull a trolley behind them, weighing up to 100kg and carrying their camping equipment.

Over the 15 months they ran between 20 miles and 35 miles a day for six days a week, dropping into local schools along the way to talk to children about their journey.

Mrs Lowrie added they had not been prepared for the "overwhelming" kindness and generosity of local people.

"There were some really tough parts when you're tired and hungry and your body is screaming in pain, but then there would be another incredible view to lift you out of the low points," she said.

"But it was the kindness of the people we passed along the way that we weren't expecting, even in the poorest of areas people would run after us with food and drink and invite us into their homes."

Together they have raised almost 10,000 US dollars (£6,186) for Birdlife International, Conservacion Patagonica and Asociacion Armonia and have broken a collection of records.

Their struggle has drawn support from several celebrities and notable people, including the Duke of Cambridge.

"I am hugely impressed that you are undertaking such a gruelling and challenging 5,000-mile run for such a vitally important cause," a message from William on the couple's website read.

"I pray you will not have too many blisters, mosquito bites and other travel scars by the time you return from such an extraordinary marathon.

"I send you both my kindness, good wishes and admiration."

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