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Sir Ranulph Fiennes triumphs at 71 completing Marathon des Sables

Sir Ranulph Fiennes triumphs at 71 completing Marathon des Sables

Congratulations to Sir Ranulph Fiennes

The veteran, heroic explorer, described by the Guinness Book of Records as “the world’s greatest living explorer”, has completed the toughest footrace on earth and in doing so becomes the oldest Briton to complete the grueling 6-day Sahara ultra-marathon in Morocco.

Following his epic trek, Sir Ranulph’s chosen charity, Marie Curie, will receive donations in excess of £99,000 at the time of writing. Marie Curie is a charity close to Sir Ranulph’s heart and helps nurses assist those with terminal illness, including but not exclusively cancer. Ginny Fiennes, Sir Ranulph’s late and beloved wife, died of stomach cancer in 2004 and he remains steadfast in his gratitude to the Marie Curie nurses whose tremendous help and efforts made her life more comfortable in her final few months. As he slowly continues his quest to raise £20million for charity before he dies, this latest adventure will help his worthy cause enormously and takes him to just under £17 million.

Speaking at the marathon finish, Sir Ranulph said, “It was like walking on a treadmill in the heat. Sand kept slipping away under my feet. I kept losing grip”. Despite the fragility of age, recovering from two heart attacks, a double bypass, a cancer operation and an on-going fight with diabetes, he completed the race at “a steady pace, just above camel pace”. Camels followed the competitors and in doing so swept up those unable to keep up the pace, effectively ending their chances of completion. Following the race, Sir Ranulph described the battle between slowing down and maintaining pace ahead of the camels. “The camels are coming slowly, but inexorably behind. One thing you cannot afford to be is cut off and removed”.

The explorer was accompanied by his trainer Rory Coleman and during the race, the duo worked hard together, in order to manage Sir Ranulph’s body to keep his heart rate below its heart attack beats per minute zone. At one point he developed pains in his leg and dizziness, and the old heart attack warning signs reappeared. By day four, a demanding 56-mile stage over 30 hours, winds rose to over 40mph as the pair walked through the night and with sweltering temperatures the next day, Sir Ranulph was forced to take spells lying down in order to control his heart rate.

By completing the race, Sir Ranulph joins an elite group of athletes to have done so previously, including his fellow adventurer and 1992 Antarctic continent unsupported crossing accomplice Dr Mike Stroud OBE. In 1994 Dr Stroud, René Nevola and Richard Cooper became the first British runners to complete the race. But at 71 years old, surely this is the best British effort yet?

Those still wishing to donate to the Marie Curie nurses and congratulate Sir Ranulph in his truly remarkable achievement can do here: Sir Ranulph Fiennes runs the sahara

Photos courtesy of Marie Curie. 

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