When I was offered the chance to meet Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the worlds greatest living explorer, there was no hesitation in my mind – this was an opportunity not to be missed! His catalogue of amazing feats is well known – mountains, both poles, marathons, world records, I could go on but I’m sure you know what he has done already!
This year sees a new challenge – to complete what may be the toughest race in the world – The Marathon des Sables.
A six day endurance run across Morocco……156 miles in the dessert heat! I can’t even begin to imagine, there aren’t words really are there?
Tuesday saw him visiting the team at Kingston University for a trial in their heat chamber, a test of his heart rate (given the double bypass and heart attacks in his past!) and whether his body can control his core temperature. Hyperthermia can be fatal, so it is important to know how his body (now 71 years old) will cope. So an hour on the treadmill in a sealed room with high heat and humidity to test his reactions.
I’m pleased to report he did amazingly well! But then would we really expect anything else of a man who has achieved so much already!
And what a wonderful time was had! He is a truly wonderful chap. Kind, genuine and very funny!
I was able to ask him are there any journeys he regrets not doing? Well so he tells me only one. The unsupported crossing of Antarctica in winter is it! Because of the amount of equipment required because of the lack of rescue available in those weather conditions, it simply isn’t possible. Although given the look in his eye, I don’t think he has completely given up on that one yet!
What about things he would consider too much or going too far? His only real concern is creepy crawlies, he is most definitely not a fan of those, so will avoid coming into contact with them where ever he can!
What treat does he look forward to after a trip? Being a proper English gent or course it’s a cup of tea, but even that is improved if accompanied by a Malteser bunny! I guess we’re not that different after all!
Why is he doing this?
Well he is a great support of Marie Curie Cancer Care and the goal is to raise £2.5 million for them by completing the race. (having already rasied £6.3 million for them in the past!) The money raised will go to support the wonderful work they do helping families and patients with terminal illness whether in their own homes or in one of their 9 nine hospices across the country. They are one of the leaders in research into, and campaigning for the care of, terminally ill people. A worthy cause I’m sure you will agree!
Accompanied by his trainer, the very lovely Rory Coleman, he has put himself through a gruelling programme to prepare for the MdS and in just 2 weeks he will be off to the sands of the Sahara and you can see more about it all on their You tube channel – HERE
Along with 500 with the other 500 competitors from the UK, he will set off for the race carrying everything he needs for the 6 days other than water. His pack which has to weigh 6.5kg must include some compulsory items including food (usually about 14,00 calories worth), sleeping bag, anti venom kit, signalling mirror, emergency flares, a compass, sunscreen, his passport and €200 – why the Euros? well if you drop out or are taken out you have to be able to pay your fare back to the hotel!
I will give you more updates on his progress as the race starts and if you want to find out for yourself please go the Marie Curie Facebook book page or their twitter feed and look for the hashtag #runRanrun. But mostly importantly, please go to his just giving page and donate something, however small to the fund and help these wonderful people bring help to those who need it!