Sir Ranulph Fiennes and his long-term expedition companion, Dr. Mike Stroud, are about to embark on an epic around-the-world trip with the aim of completing seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.
Add to the challenge the fact that Sir Ranulph underwent a double heart bypass operation only four months ago, and this becomes one of the intrepid pair’s toughest ventures yet. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has been chosen as the sole UK benefiting charity of the challenge.
The epic journey starts at London Heathrow airport on Tuesday 21 October for the long and complex journey to the Antarctic, and the first marathon – in the Antarctic – takes place on Sunday 26 October. Then follows the Santiago marathon on Monday 27 October, the Sydney marathon (29/10), Singapore (30/10), London (31/10), Cairo (1/11) and New York (2/11).
Sir Ranulph, 59, said: "Luckily, the bypass operation and the care I received have given me back the kind of life I think of as normal. It’s a fairly routine operation today – but only a few years ago, it was being pioneered by the British Heart Foundation, whose work I’ve come to admire greatly, and I am delighted to be back in a position to support this very important charity."
He added: "To succeed in the Land Rover 7x7x7 Challenge, we need to complete each marathon within about six hours, and in the last two training runs, both Mike and I have come in with times below 4 hrs 30 mins. However, there is still the risk of delayed flights and treacherous roads to contend with, so as usual, we will need the Land Rovers and luck to be on our side – but we are confident."
Dr. Mike Stroud, 48, said: "We had been talking about this challenge even before Ran’s heart attack, and now, with the support of Land Rover, we are even more determined to complete it. I will carry sufficient medical equipment, including a defibrillator, in case of emergencies, and we have agreed that if one of us falls ill, the other will continue and aim to be the first to complete this amazing physical, mental and logistical challenge."
Land Rover vehicles will be used in six of the seven countries to carry the runners and their equipment to marathon starting points, using their off-road ability to follow the most direct routes. Carrying the pair from country to country will be British Airways Club World in-flight beds, without which, exhaustion would certainly cut the challenge short.
Donations to the Land Rover 7x7x7 Challenge fund and the British Heart Foundation can be made online at www.bhf.org.uk/7x7x7 or by post to the Land Rover 7x7x7 Challenge, BHF, 14 Fitzhardinge Street, London W1H 6HD.Published 22 October 2003