The most amazing experience!

9 04 2011

Jon has successfully completed the North Pole Marathon … After all the delays due to cracks on the runway the competitors were eventually flown out to the race site at Barneo ice station on two separate flights on Friday 8th April. The race began 22:00 on April 8th and was run throughout the ‘night’ finishing on Saturday 9th April. As there is 24 hour daylight at the Pole this made it easier on the time clocks of the competitors.

The temperature was -32C and conditions underfoot were very powdery and uneven which became more difficult as the race progressed.

Jon finished the marathon in 8 hours and 34 mins  – a personal best having never run this distance before (or probably again!!!)

A full update together with pix and video will follow on Jon’s return from the Pole to the UK!!!

Many  thanks for all your support…

 

How to donate:

Cheques payable to: The Lee Smith Foundation Ltd

Reference: Polarrunner

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

or by debit/credit card at: www.virginmoneygiving.com/polarrunner

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One week to go !

25 03 2011

I thought you might like to see the pictures that I have received from the advance party setting up camp for us at the North Pole …. this time next week I will be partaking of the last supper !! before I depart.

Laying out the course !

Dormitory Tent

Kitchen Tent

My kit list is pretty much complete now – I have enclosed some pictures of what’s going to be travelling with me … all feels a bit surreal at the moment as I am writing this sitting outside wearing only a t-shirt and it all feels so much like Spring (don’t forget the clocks go forward this Saturday night / Sunday morning !) and in a few days time I will be deeply embedded in the biggest Winter I have ever experienced – but it will be  24 hour daylight!

Not the Fairmont ... but warm with hot tea and Vodka !!!

The fundraising is going really well. Between Alex’s Family and various allied groups together with our own sponsorship effort we are only £23,000 away from reaching the target required to help send Alex Field to America to start this hopefully life changing treatment.

Lee’s Charity funding continues at a pace as well and I really want to thank the many Trust Funds that have donated separately to this cause.

How to donate:

If you would like to donate by cheque they should be made payable to: The Lee Smith Foundation Ltd

Send to: The Secretary

Reference: Polarrunner

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

or by debit/credit card at: www.virginmoneygiving.com/polarrunner





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

Jon

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





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 …





The KNEED to begin !!

7 10 2010

My physio team of Ed Blake and Peter Chum (those are his hands!) have performed miracles and in spite of various surgeons advice that this mission would not be possible with my sports battered, and particularly, badly injured right knee – I am up, running and relatively pain-free – its only five miles at the moment but that means I have only got to add another 21.2 in the next 6 months !!

I am also so excited that eminent Professor Greg Whyte (the man who got Cracknell and Fogel to the South Pole, Cheryl Cole et al up Kili and Walliams across the Channel) has agreed to take me on as a challenge ! He and Karen Williams at Sir John Moore’s University in Liverpool will be creating and supervising my training programme.

Greg ran me through the machines and all the aerobic tests last week and I am good to go !

Not going to add much today as the next event will be my visit to the climate chamber at Bisham Abbey on the 25th of this month which will replicate the North Pole and my first exposure to the realities of running in deep Arctic conditions – I purposely have kept the heating off in Hertfordshire to begin my conditioning!

Just a final note for today …. a very very big thank you to the four beautiful nurses at Hospiten in Estepona who sewed my toe back on in August when I managed to detach part of it near the beach !! They only looked about 12 but they were great at ‘needlecraft’ and I won’t even be able to feel the frostbite!

PS – Loads of causes coming in – thank you all so much … we are going to do some good work here. Will let you know as soon as we’ve sorted through so many suggestions.