Ranulph Fiennes (not to be confused with Ralph Fiennes, the actor) is a great explorer. So great even that according to the Guinness Book of World Records he is “The world’s greatest living explorer!” That was back in 1984 and since then he has broken many more world records and led many more expeditions.
One of the exploration outbursts that earned him this inofficial title was his 7x7x7 Challenge: to run 7 Marathons in 7 Days on 7 different Continents!
In 2003 – despite suffering from a heart attack and undergoing a double heart bypass operation just four months before – Ranulph Fiennes teamed up with nutrition specialist Dr Mike Stroud to carry out the extraordinary feat of completing seven marathons in seven days on seven continents in the Land Rover 7x7x7 Challenge for the British Heart Foundation.
Later Fiennes would say “In retrospect I wouldn’t have done it. I wouldn’t do it again. It was Mike Stroud’s idea”. But they did it nonetheless!
Their series of marathons was as follows:
- 26 October – Race 1: Patagonia – South America
- 27 October – Race 2: Falkland Islands – “Antarctica”
- 28 October – Race 3: Sydney – Australasia
- 29 October – Race 4: Singapore – Asia
- 30 October – Race 5: London – Europe
- 31 October – Race 6: Cairo – Africa
- 1 November – Race 7: New York – North America
Originally Fiennes had planned to run the first marathon on King George Island, Antarctica. The second marathon would then have taken place in Santiago, Chile. However, bad weather and aeroplane engine trouble caused him to change his plans, running the South American segment in southern Patagonia first and then hopping to the Falklands as a substitute for the Antarctic leg.
Speaking after the event, Fiennes said the Singapore Marathon had been by far the most difficult because of the high humidity and pollution. “I hit the pavement and nearly fainted at the end. I felt completely knackered and not able to do another one.”
The pair had been running with a defibrillator to safeguard Sir Ranulph’s health. Fiennes cardiac surgeon had approved the marathons, providing his heart-rate did not exceed 130 beats per minute. Fiennes later said that he forgot to pack his heart-rate monitor, and therefore did not know how fast his heart was beating.
Kickass dude this Ranulph!