A little light listening …

17 03 2011

Here is an audio clip of today’s chat with Paul Hawksbee and Andy Jacobs on Talk Sport Radio  … hope you enjoy it

If you do have a copy of this weekend’s Mail on Sunday – check out the article in the Health section

Thank you


3 weeks to go !!

12 03 2011

Having worked at this for over a year, this challenge is getting perilously close. My biggest fear continues to be that because of all the problems that I have suffered with my fragile knees and the fact that I am still only doing 4/5 miles during my post op running sessions which are 3 times a week (although I have only been doing these over the last two weeks). It’s a major haul to get to 26 plus miles in arctic conditions at the North Pole.

My fitness however is relatively prolific! Due to the intense pool and bike sessions over the last few months I was hardly even drawing breath during today’s run. I have also spent some time running on soft sand in Spain last weekend to try and replicate deep snow (sorry about the picture – was trying out my arctic socks during the Spanish run!)

However the list of competitors from around the world for the marathon reads like a who’s who of uber marathoners http://www.npmarathon.com/html/200427/ (and then there is me !!) Think I will be lucky to finish last but all I am really concerned about is somehow completing the challenge in a bit of style (actually, any style will do!)  Anyway, enough about me …. !

We have started our PR work this week with a feature in the Mail on Sunday due for publication next week and an article in the Jewish Chronicle yesterday http://www.thejc.com/community/community-life/46462/soccer-agents-%C2%A3100k-pole-goal Looking forward to some radio and TV promotion in the next couple of weeks.

Little Alex has been in hospital again this week but fortunately was well enough to be allowed out to be Accrington Stanley’s mascot in their game against Gillingham today…

I spent some time with him and his mother, Rachel, this week. He is so brave and the family are so supportive – I really want to help make this work for him!


5 weeks to go !!!

26 02 2011

5 weeks to go … and this will be me – it’s all getting very real now!  I love this picture from the 2009 marathon at the North Pole (last year’s pictures weren’t that good as it was near white out and blizzard conditions!) but the thought of being so close to actually doing this now and running a marathon in those conditions fills me with trepidation and enthralls me all in the same sentence.

I am working very hard in the pool and on the bike (and with the ice packs) and actually took my first steps back as a runner yesterday, since November – both knees held fine and I did all of 2 miles – only 24 and a bit to go so that should be alright then!

Just want to say thank you to so many of you who have been so generous and unashamedly please can I ask again for the support of anybody who hasn’t yet donated. Alex is in hospital at the moment having some stabilization treatment but I really would like to be able to get him to California for his major surgery in the Summer. So please don’t be backward in coming forward – every penny helps and every donation is as important as the last one we receive.

The Lee Smith Foundation TaNK treatment continues to progress well – we hope to be in patient trials with this later in the year.  Can I take this opportunity to remind you all that the donation site is:  www.virginmoneygiving.com/polarrunner

In the Climate Chamber again with Greg Whyte on Wednesday (after he returns from the desert trek with Lorainne Kelly, Craig David, Dermot O’Leary and the Comic Relief crew!) … so he will be moving from + 40 degrees to – 40 degrees !!

Think my kit pack is finally complete – the final piece was my minus 100 degree boots to enable me to walk at the North Pole the day before the marathon and “inspect the course” before retiring to my thermal sleeping bag … my new puppy Smudge seems quite impressed with this piece of equipment.

How to donate:

Cheques payable to: The Lee Smith Foundation Ltd

Send to: The Secretary
The Lee Smith Foundation Ltd
First Artist House
85A Wembley Hill Road
Wembley, Middlesex HA9 8BU

or at: www.virginmoneygiving.com/polarrunner

Registered charity no: 1112905

The reason why I am doing this …

7 02 2011

At last !! after all these months I have found the reason why every ache and pain of this challenge is worthwhile !! Below are the two causes and every reason … Thank you to everyone who has followed this over the last few months. Please give as generously as you can !! we are now live for donations at www.virginmoneygiving.com/polarrunner

Drowning in the pool after a month but getting incredibly fit – back on the road soon …..

There is never a good time to ask for money – even more so in the depths of a recession and in a grey wet February – but it’s been a long time, over 10 years, since I asked anyone to sponsor me (the last time was jumping out of airplanes with the Red Devils at the back end of the last century!)

But this is a unique moment. Those of you who might have followed my blog recently (polarrunner.wordpress.com), will know that I am about to undertake something rather ridiculous; but the challenge was put to me (difficult to back down even at my age!) and the organisers passed me ‘good to go’.

So this is it …… I am running my first ever marathon – at the North Pole !!

I leave for the Pole on 2nd April this year and run the 26.2 miles in circa minus 40 degrees on the 7th April. Due to weather conditions it is not 26 miles in a straight line as they could lose us in a white out or to the odd polar bear (although they rarely travel that far north – it’s too cold!). We will run 4.4km in a circuit round the North Pole x 10. There are 24 ‘uber marathoners’ from around the world plus me – a marathon virgin! and I am supremely confident that the 24 in front of me will be able to smooth a path through the snow to enable me to finish this within the time limit (36 hours!) that the Russian military plane transporting us can remain on the North Pole Ice Floe!!

As you all know, over the years, I’ve run a charity in memory of my first wife, Lee, who passed away 30 years ago next month. The funds raised have given new lives to many cancer afflicted children. I would really like this marathon to support the Lee Smith Foundation’s new TaNK cell treatment. A potentially new treatment for Prostate, Breast and Ovarian cancer, Leukaemia and Myeloma.

I also want to introduce you to Alex Field. Alex is a cheeky, bright and cheerful 7 year old boy who has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. At present he is under treatment at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Surrey, however a new treatment that could potentially save his life looks to be available in California and we would like to be able to pay for that treatment by the funds raised from this marathon.

I know how tough it is out there for everyone at the moment but please find it in your hearts and wallets (!) to be as generous as possible especially to try and help to give little Alex his life back.
Thank you in anticipation


How to donate:

Cheques payable to: The Lee Smith Foundation Ltd

Send to: The Secretary
The Lee Smith Foundation Ltd
First Artist House
85A Wembley Hill Road
Wembley, Middlesex HA9 8BU

or at: www.virginmoneygiving.com/polarrunner

Time to pile on the pounds and collect the £s soon!

24 01 2011

I cant believe it! It’s nearly the end of January – I started this so long ago and now its’s only 10 weeks before I depart for the North Pole to run, arguably the hardest Marathon on the planet and I’m only just starting to walk again after the knee op!!

In all my training so far the furthest I have run is still under 10 miles so the ‘scary factor’ is beginning to take hold however I am determined to see this through!

core exercise

Training is fascinating – core stability work and this incredibly tiring pool workout which I am now doing 5 days a week. This primarily involves running full tilt against a jet in the pool which I did previously but they have made it that much harder for me by making me wear a floatation device so that my feet cannot touch the bottom and I am now running against the jet, myself and severe exhaustion – I know it sounds ridiculous
but I have never done anything so hard (yet) in any training session I have undertaken in my youthful 58 years.

Anyway the good news is that as I am likely to lose upwards of 20 lbs whilst I am at the Pole so when it gets to March I will have to start stuffing myself with pasta and lots of chocolate – all Mars Bar donations gratefully received…!

Most importantly it looks like we have now found our causes that will be become my raison d’etre – will write all about that in the next week or so and no doubt quite a few of you will receive sponsorship requests for which I kind of apologise but not really as I am sure you will agree when you see why I am doing this ……

A marathon on ice – trained for underwater !

9 01 2011

So finally I am in the year of my North Pole marathon … and disaster has struck!

Returned from Theatre

Over Christmas my left knee never got better resulting in unbelievably the one thing that I really didn’t want to happen taking place – I had to succumb to surgery on the 4th January but I did manage to get my hands on arguably the best knee surgeon in the world today – Fares Haddad. This was largely through the pulling power of my coach Greg Whyte and my physio Ed Blake.

So its now January 9th and I have my leg in bandage and we are going to spend the next month running this marathon training programme underwater.

Kicking against a jet in the pool holding onto ‘my noodle’!! Apparently this is going to be hard work and will make me aerobically fit enough to undertake this ridiculous challenge.

Prepared for deep water training - with dry knee equipment !!!

Although my left knee is surgically better, my right one is still a risky proposition we just couldn’t do two knees at the same time!

It’s 12 weeks to go this week – the mountain just got a lot steeper but having sold a chunk of my business in December at least I am going to have more quality noodle time !!

Going to do Radio 5 breakfast tomorrow morning in my capacity of patron of the British Stammering Association (talking about the King’s Speech) then off to buy a pool buoy to keep me company in the first of my many new deep water world of aerobic / kneeless exercise! – what a bizarre way to train for this crazy challenge!

This is certainly going to be ‘fun’ hope you will join me over the next 12 weeks following our cause and concerns.

Incidentally told my father who lives in Toronto over Christmas what I was doing; said that it would circa minus 40 degrees at the Pole … he told me where he lives, they call that January!

Happy New Year …

North Pole Training Camp … Barnet !

19 12 2010

Trying desperately to be a good lad and follow the physio’s advice and not run for a week or so … but today’s weather is just too tempting – put a pole in the paddock and jogged very slowly around it a few times … just like 90 degrees North!!


Pole Paddock Training Camp



Also found a really good way of training without over-stressing the knees – sprinting against a jet in an exercise pool. Greg organised me a programme which is seriously testing without any knee stress at all.

Deep water pool running




Today I did a 10 min warm up followed by 5 x 1 minute hard sprints against the jet with 30 seconds recovery – a couple of minutes easy – 10 x 30 second sprints with 30 second recovery followed by 15 second sprints with 15 seconds recovery and so on (This training was aided and abetted by my son Scott gathering large snowballs and throwing them at me in the pool to simulate an Arctic storm!!) … Training then steps up every other day and at least with the current climate I am getting to test out all of the kit in front of time – it really is good; went for a walk in half the kit last night when it was minus 6 outside which is just as well as minus 6 would be considered Summer at the Pole! as demonstrated by me in the deckchair yesterday!

Relaxing and Acclimatization Dec 2010