By Caroline Sandry


Sir Ranulph

Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE is described by The Guinness Book of Records as ‘The world’s greatest living explorer’. He is a living hero. Not only was he first to reach both Poles, the first to cross the Antarctic and Arctic Ocean, the first to circumnavigate the world along its polar axis, but he has also raised millions for charity and has been named the UK’s top celebrity fundraiser by


met with the legend at his latest charity venture ‘Seeing is Believing’ – a global initiative designed to tackle avoidable blindness. As ambassador to the cause, he hopes to help raise enough funds to help save 6,500 people’s eyesight in developing countries around the world. The first big fundraiser was, ‘The Standard Chartered Great City Race’ that took place on July 14th.

CS: So you have had to adapt your training as you have aged? SRF: Yes, you have to make those types of refinements at a certain creaky age! As of about 60 it definitely started changing and I had to refine my training to, ‘a bit more of this and a bit less of that’! CS: How do you feel about aging and does the attention to your age bother you? SRF: Yes, (but) you try not to think about it. The more you think about it the more it’s there. A good way to think about aging is to remember that more of us are reaching 100 plus years of age (the Queen will have to stop sending out special messages!) and the 82 of

CS: You have maintained an incredible level of fitness. What’s your advice to budding adventurers? SRF: Well, it’s totally different for a 60 year old and a 40 year old or a younger person. I wrote a book called ‘Fit for Life’ (available through Amazon) and it’s ok (getting fit) for average people who read chapter one and start doing all of it, but when it comes to the problematic stuff from chapter 10 onwards, I basically say that if you’re over 40 then don’t even try it! The same applies to me now – the sort of levels of fitness that I try to maintain now are totally limited compared to when I was younger, so the advice varies according to age and sport. CS: I read in one of your books that you recommended 2 hours of running every other day as an antidote to aging… SRF: (laughs) I might have said that in the past! Actually now 2 hours twice a week is more like it! I will do a 2 hour run and then some stretches – something I have had to add in since passing 60.

the world primarily because we were not specialists. You needed to have a team of 4, each of whom wasn’t going to let the side down in about 8 separate fitness sports. There was canoeing, sea-canoeing, running with a heavy back pack for many, many miles, mountain biking, horse riding, all these things and others would come into the race. This meant you could have people who were older, who wouldn’t let the side down on any of the activities, but who also didn’t shine brilliantly either. CS: What else helps to make a good team? SRF: You need to have a good team leader who is totally in control. You move as one, so

I will do a 2 hour run and then some stretches – something I have had to add in since passing 60
today is the 68 of yesterday! Therefore 68 is now 50! When I was 50 I was winning races and all kinds of things and I was also a part of a team where the next eldest was usually 23 years younger than me! CS: What kind of team? SRF: I was with the UK adventure racing B team, with people like Steven Seaton (athlete and ex-editor of Runner’s World). We weren’t right up there with the best in if someone needed a pee, the team leader would wait until everyone needed a pee - by stopping all at the same time you can save a few minutes. Then for example, if the French team were sleeping 2 hours in every 24 and you were sleeping 3 hours in 24, you would be less zombie-like. The team leader needs to make those kinds of decisions. CS: You mentioned sleeping for just 3 hours in every 24. How do you cope


ultra-FIT AUGUST 2011


AUGUST 2011 ultra-FIT



Sir Ranulph Fiennes – the man the adventures

Sir Ranulph Fiennes with Caroline Sandry

with this? Likewise, with the jet lag that you must have suffered on your 7 marathons/7 continents/7 days challenge? SRF: Well, on that 2004 7/7/7 race the jet lag was a big problem. You had to sleep and eat on the flights between races. CS: How did the 7/7/7 come about? SRF: The New York Marathon Club had secretly wanted to do this race on every continent on 7 successive days for a long time and they wanted one non-American (like a mascot) on their team – Dr. Michael Stroud. They said to him years ago that they had this top secret goal and would he like to be their doctor. Mike said ‘yes’ and kept it quiet. Years passed and with no airline seemingly able to deliver the necessary travel requirements no progress was made. Then in around 2003, I called Mike and said ‘Mike, we haven’t done a trip for a long time. There’s a 3 month ‘thing’ coming up – do you want to do it?’ to which he said ‘Yes’! However, his employers said no to 3 months off work and said the most he could have was 7 days. He immediately thought of this 7/7/7 race and having been waiting for the call for 6 years, decided he had kept it secret for long enough! The only thing we needed to find was an air company and lucky for us, a good friend worked for BA and managed to organise the whole thing. The proviso was that they would never wait one minute (these were scheduled flights) beyond the scheduled flight time and that they would give us 5 hours at each stop including customs and security, which meant we had to average 4 ½ hour marathons. The other thing was that they couldn’t keep the nasty humid runs until last as we had planned, so we agreed to these conditions and went for it! CS: You had double by-pass heart

surgery prior to that race – how did it affect you? SRF: My wife took me to a surgeon (hoping that he would say that I couldn’t do it) and he said to her that he had done the double by-pass on 3000 other people and none had ever asked if they could run a marathon! He was actually a great runner himself so he understood and allowed me to attempt the challenge. After the Singapore race I ended up on a drip in an ambulance….the BBC said to me, “Is that it, the last of the 7 marathons for you now then?” (There were still 2 more to go). I said ‘Yes, obviously’. But Mike and I had a cup of tea and then thought, ‘Oh, we might as well have a go at the next one’, which was the following morning in Europe! CS: Do you feel different now having had the bypass? SRF: Yes totally, ever since then everything got worse – it’s harder to breathe, I’ve lung problems… CS: How do you keep going mentally on long expeditions such as crossing Antarctica? SRF: I have a mental idea of somebody else, usually my grandfather or father. I think in my head that they are watching me and that I don’t want to let them down, so you can get a bit further on those thoughts. CS: What’s coming up next? SRF: I can’t say what exactly but something very exciting and Mike Stroud is involved! We are currently locating sponsorship. CS: And ‘Seeing is Believing’, what drew you to this initiative? SRF: If I even partially lost my sight, it would be the worst thing that I could think of. Standard

, First to reach both Poles (with Charles Burton). , First to cross Antarctic and Arctic Ocean (with Charles Burton). , First to circumnavigate the world along its polar axis (with Charles Burton). A 52,000 mile odyssey , Achieved world record for unsupported northerly polar travel in 1990. , First to complete the first unsupported crossing of the Antarctic Continent (with Mike Stroud) in 1992/1993 , 3½ months after a massive heart attack, 3 day coma and double bypass, he achieved the first ‘7/7/7’ (seven marathons in only seven days on all seven continents) with Mike Stroud in 2003 , Climbed (Tibet side) Everest to within 300m of summit raising £2 million for the British Heart Foundations new research MRI scanner 2005 , Climbed the North Face of the Eiger (with Kenton Cool and Ian Parnell) and raised £1.8 million for Marie Curie Cancer 2007 , Winner of ITV Greatest Britons 2007 Sport Award , Climbed Everest (Nepal-side) to within 400m from summit raising £2.6m for Marie Curie Cancer 2008 , Marie Curie 2008 ‘Above and Beyond Award’ Winner , The oldest Briton ever to summit Everest with Thundu Sherpa making for a total raised for Marie Curie of over £6.2m. 2000 Chartered have chosen a great initiative in ‘Seeing is Believing’ because you can see the results of the money immediately - It impacts the whole family rather than just helping an individual, because if a father goes blind and loses his job then the whole family suffers. UF To support the cause go to: standardcharteredgreatcityrace If you are inspired by Sir Ranulph and want to read more about his adventures, then we recommend ‘Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know’ The Autobiography. To learn how to train and eat like the man himself, check out ‘Fit for Life’ from Amazon.


ultra-FIT AUGUST 2011

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful