Willie Allan

Miles Hilton Barber

3 stars

  • Completed The Toughest Foot-Race In The World – A 150 Mile Ultra-Marathon Race Through The Sahara Desert
  • Climbed Multiple Mountains Despite Being Blind

In April 1999, 54 year-old RNIB Associate Consultant Miles Hilton-Barber completed the toughest foot-race in the World – the Marathon Des Sables, a 150 mile Ultra-Marathon race through the 120 degree heat of the Sahara Desert.

In April 2000 Miles climbed to a height of 17,500 feet in the Himalayas. He then successfully conquered Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa at 19,340 feet. A few days later he took part in the unique ‘Highest and Deepest 2000’ Project on Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain.

For anyone this would be an impressive record, but it is all the more astounding in that Miles has been blind for 20 years. He relies on his friend and sighted guide, Jonathan Cook, to help him achieve his goals.

In November 2000 Miles then set a world record as the first blind person to man-haul a sledge over 400 kilometres across Antarctica. Frostbite prevented him from continuing his amazing bid to be the first blind person to reach the South Pole.

In August 2001 he participated in an 11 day Ultra-marathon event across China, including sections of the Gobi Desert, 12,000 feet high Tibetan mountain tracks and the Great Wall of China. On returning to the UK, he then climbed Ben Nevis (the UK’s highest mountain), and abseiled down several tower blocks for charity.

In January 2002 he competed in the Siberian Ice Marathon, billed as ‘The Coldest Marathon on Earth’. A few weeks later, after qualifying as a scuba diver, he undertook 12 open water dives in the Red Sea off Hurghada, Egypt, exploring shipwrecks 80 feet down on coral reefs. He is now qualified as an Advanced Open Water scuba diver.

Six weeks later Miles, as part of a 5-man team, set an astonishing new world record – crossing the entire Qatar Desert non-stop and unsupported. The 200 kilometre journey, pulling a third of a ton of water and supplies behind them on multi-terrain desert carts, took them over 78 hours day and night, without sleep.
Miles then flew direct to France, having entered in the Paris Marathon due to start 36 hours later, but on arrival in Paris found himself unable to walk and was declared medically unfit due to ankle and feet injuries sustained in the desert.

In July last year he then participated in the Commonwealth Games Queen’s ‘Jubilee Baton Relay Race’. Five weeks later Miles then set off on the massive ‘Around the World in Eighty Ways’ project. This was a 93-day 38,000 mile circumnavigation of the entire world, accompanied by two disabled friends, using over 80 challenging forms of transport, promoting the untapped potential of people with disabilities. These included swimming 11 miles under the Red Sea, hot air ballooning over the Nevada Desert and setting the lap record for a blind driver at the Malaysian Grand Prix Circuit, racing a 200kph Lotus.

On returning to Britain, he was voted as BBC Radio 5 Live’s ‘Alternative Sports personality of the Year’, featured in the latest edition of Debrett’s ‘People of Today’, and presented with an Honorary ‘Master of the University’ award by Derby University, in recognition of his remarkable achievements in endurance events and his major contribution to charity.
Miles set another world first this August, becoming the first blind person to fly the English Channel in a microlight, and has his eyes set on the world high-altitude record. Next January he plans to embark on an awesome 35-day, 12,500 miles microlight flight from London to Sydney, Australia with Storm Smith, a highly experienced and accomplished microlight pilot.

Miles’ past accomplishments include Grade 5 Zambesi white water rafting, jet skiing, tandem cycling marathons, abseiling, Scottish Grade 3 technical ice climbing, hot-air ballooning, water skiing, the 1998 London Marathon, para-sailing and 40 sky-diving jumps.