Sir Ranulph Fiennes
The World's Greatest Living Explorer
For most fitness buffs and/or runners, the marathon
is the ultimate challenge
, and for those of us who struggle with even much shorter distances, we realize the effort and dedication
one must put forth to reach this sometimes seemingly impossible feat. For Sir Ranulph Fiennes and his running partner, Mike Stroud, this feat was not quite challenging enough
, so they ran seven marathons
in seven days
on seven different continents
. Actually, there were only six continents since the planned run in Antarctica
was scratched due to weather
and replaced by the Falkland Islands. News of this feat was my introduction to whom the Guinness Book of World Records
calls the worlds greatest living explorer
, Ranulph Fiennes. I had barely touched the surface.
Sir Ranulph Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes was born on March 7, 1944, somewhere in England, but spent most of his early childhood in South Africa. Fiennes returned to England at twelve, went to school at Eton and then entered the British Army as a member of the Royal Scots Grey, like his father before him. Later, Fiennes transferred to the "elite" SAS regiment, where he spent the next eight years. In 1970, Fiennes married his childhood sweetheart, Virginia Pepper, and these two like minds decided to dedicate their lives to adventure, financed by expeditions which would benefit charities and fund further expeditions.
These adventures and expeditions actually began in 1969, a year before Fiennes' marriage and aside from the marathon feat which continues to stagger my perception of endurance, the following feats by Sir Ranulph Fiennes leave no doubt as to the fortitude and determination of a man who dares to do the undone;
On June 7, 2003, Fiennes was aboard an easyJet plane at Bristol Airport preparing for a trip to Edinburgh, when he suffered a heart attack. Six months after by-pass surgery, at the age of 59, Fiennes began his most grueling challenge yet, the Land Rover 7x7x7 Marathon Challenge. It all began on October 26th, 2003 in the Patagonia region of Chile and ended seven days later on November 2nd at the New York City Marathon, where Fiennes and partner Stroud finished in a time of five hours, twenty-five minutes and 46 seconds. In between, on successive days, marathons were run in the Falkland Islands, Sydney, Singapore, London and Cairo. Scheduling was of paramount importance in this challenge; each marathon had to be finished in less than six hours or they would miss the flight to the next days run. Highlights included the London route which ran from Windsor to White City, the route of the earliest competitive world marathon. In Cairo, they ran aside the pyramids at midnight, and in Singapore the stifling conditions (32C, 90% humidity) caused Fiennes to collapse near the end. All the money raised from the Land Rover challenge was donated to the British Heart Foundation.
On April 10, 2004, Fiennes tacked another marathon onto his list, this one at the North Pole. Running in minus 25 degrees celsius weather, Fiennes finished second at the Red Moon North Pole Marathon in a time of 3:56:49. In case you're interested, next year's North Pole Marathon takes place on April 13th, 2005. But Fiennes won't be there this time, he plans to climb Mount Everest next spring. In preparation, the 60 year old Fiennes climbed the 5,486m (18,000ft) Mount Kilimanjaro this past August. Everest is a 8,500m peak but Fiennes will attempt it from from the China approach, at times reaching 8000 meters. Something tells me he won't stop there.
avalyn reminds me that Everest is 8848 meters from mean sea level, so my information is somewhat askew..sorry
In his spare time, Sir Fiennes wrote a few books about his adventures;