At 71, Sir Ranulph Fiennes set to run the Toughest Footrace on Earth
Heroic explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes turned 71 this weekend and in doing so maintains his remarkable hunger and steely determination to challenge himself. In April, Sir Ranulph aims to attempt to run 156 miles (251km) in just 6 days by taking part in the grueling Marathon des Sables. This Saharan Desert ultra-marathon is ranked by the Discovery Channel as the toughest footrace on earth.
Participation is highly sought after and attracts individuals and teams of individuals, amateur and elite athletes from all over the world. This multi-stage adventure takes place under the scorching Moroccan sun, in temperatures in excess of 50 degrees centigrade. Participants are required to be self-sufficient, carrying with them everything except water that they may need to survive. Overnight tents are provided, but all other equipment and food must be carried.
Dr Mike Stroud OBE, along with René Nevola and Richard Cooper became the first British runners to complete The Marathon des Sables in 1994. Just 18 months earlier in 1992/1993 Sir Ranulph and Dr Mike Stroud completed the first unsupported crossing of the Antarctic Continent, which was deemed the longest unsupported polar journey in history. So it would seem that Sir Ranulph now also wants to join this elite group of veterans despite being 71 years old!
Lionhearted and Courageous Mind Set Prevails
With age often comes the inevitability of fragility, even for the one of the world’s finest explorers and most experienced and hardy adventurers on the planet. Sir Ranulph has endured two heart attacks, a double bypass, a cancer operation and is in an on-going fight with diabetes, along with coping with the deep and personal loss of his late and beloved wife, Ginny.
This marathon is by no means Sir Ranulph’s only marathon experience however! In 2003, only a few months after he sustained a huge heart attack, three day coma and double bypass, Sir Ranulph and Dr Mike Stroud achieved the first 7x7x7 - seven marathons in seven consecutive days on all seven continents.
He is a truly remarkable man with a mind set worthy of receiving multiple awards, which he has! The Polar Medal 1984 by HM the Queen for Outstanding Service to Polar Exploration and Research, Gold Medal NY Explorers Club 1984, and has also been described by the Guinness Book of Records as “The World’s Greatest Living Explorer” 1984.
Sir Ranulph’s chosen charity continues to be Marie Curie, which to date he has raised £6.3m for in various events including Everest and Eiger challenges. With the aim to raise £2.5m in this challenge, the funding will help to provide free support for people living with a terminal illness and their families. To donate to this worthy cause and recognize Sir Ranulph’s courage you can do so at: Ranulph Fiennes Marie Curie Donation
We wish him luck.
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Photography courtesy of Marie Curie