The moment has arrived …

31 03 2011

Thumbs up from Alex ...

So finally after a little over a year of working towards my marathon at the North Pole – the moment has arrived … I leave this weekend for the Pole.

Actually, firstly via Oslo and onto our base camp at Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen in the Arctic Circle. I spoke to the organisers of the event the other day and asked them what the time difference will be at the Pole … most amazing answer – there is no time at the North Pole! This is because all the world longitudinal lines that determine the world’s time zones meet at the Pole. So I can stare due south to Great Britain and be on BST, turn a couple of inches to my right and be on West Coast American Time, turn to my left and I am on the same time as Tokyo or turn behind me and be on the same time as New Zealand!! – So actually I will be doing my marathon in NO TIME at all !!!!

Near disaster yesterday … knocked out half a marathon before breakfast in 2.5 hours but swallowed some pain preventatives, just in case I need them half way through and was quite ill for the rest of the day. Arrived home with a couple of nice blisters but most depressingly a very sore left knee which puffed up quite nastily, so I am having to pay a final visit to the hospital tomorrow to have it aspirated one last time.

Then I travel with good heart, good hope and a lot of Compeed!

Peter Crouch and Alex

Looks like we might meet Prince Harry’s ‘Walking with the Wounded’ at the Pole.

I leave Spitsbergen on Tues/Wed by Russian Millitary plane and then get ferried by helicopter to the Pole – so I guess this will be the final blog before I get there although if possible I will try and send something from Spitsbergen.

To those have followed my blog during the last year, thank you for your interest and support I hope it has been mildly informative and of some amusement! To the many sponsors who have raised so much money for both Lee’s Charity and Alex’s treatment a huge and heartfelt thank you – in a real goofed up world each and every one of you have made a real difference!!! … and finally to anyone who is still thinking of donation – NOW would be a good time!

Harry Redknapp and Alex

This blog is being written at the end of a long day … I took Alex and his family to meet Harry Redknapp and the Tottenham team today – what a great bunch of lads who spent so much time caring and encouraging Alex. That was followed by Andrey Arshavin coming down to spend some time with Alex and the family. For those of you who are bored or can’t sleep Sky Sports News have been running a piece all evening at about 10 to the hour which will be run all though the night on the project and Alex’s day. All in all it was a really positive day that in my darker moments at the Pole will lighten my spirit and make me realise yet again how important it is that we give a little back to those that really do need it!

Andrey Arshavin and Alex

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:



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


The coldest day of my life …. so far !

10 11 2010

Woke up this morning with one thought on my mind – today was going to be the coldest day of my life so far!

It wasn’t encouraging that when I went out to get the newspaper from the end of the drive in a blisteringly warm 8 degrees – I actually felt cold! and shortly I was going to be nearly 40 degrees colder!!

Arrived at Bisham Abbey with plenty of time to spare and sat with Greg Whyte  (see pic – little ‘n’ large ?!?) prior to entering the climate chamber, who gave me my 4 point warning ….. any lack of feeling in the tips of my fingers, tips of my toes, nose or ‘other well known extremities’ were to be reported immediately as having an inch or so lobbed of any of them for frost bite was not that inviting !!

It was bloody freezing – we entered the chamber at -20˚ and this is where I begin to get amazed at technology – I was wearing thin thermal underwear and what appeared to be 2 thin ‘wick away’ layers as instructed, my specifically designed fell running boots and two pairs of thermal socks. The gloves were massive – thin innerds, second layer and an outer layer that looks like one of those hand things you wave at Wembley Stadium.

The problem as ever was getting started – the race at the North Pole will have a gap between us leaving the tent, lining up and actually starting to run. This can be as long as up to 10 minutes so we stood around and chatted for 5 and got very very cold.

I was then put on the cross trainer as in those temperatures a running machine could not operate and something remarkable happened … I got warmer and the longer the session went on the more the kit worked – toes were marginally cooler, hands and other appendages seem to be fairly snug.

There were a few issues that we will need to sort out … in covering my ears, mouth, and to a degree, my eyes I seem to be creating my own, slightly claustrophobic environment around my face, where breathing into my own thermal covering steamed up my goggles, made breathing that much harder and made the moisture on the outside of my facial covering turn to ice … not sure that Armani will adopt this look next winter !

Wind chill was fun. The chamber was at -20˚ with a wind chill factor added of – 11˚. I spent the last 40 minutes at -31˚.

In the words of Gloria Gaynor ‘I survived’ apparently with everything in good working order and then Greg and I went for a run around the grounds at Bisham on a beautifully sunny autumnal morning ….. it is amazing how this project seems to take me a million miles away from the rest of my every day life!!

They think its all over .... I was wrong - this is just the beginning !!

All dressed up but nowhere to go … YET !!!

31 10 2010

Training has been surreal – Greg Whyte has been working me on heartbeats per minute rather than distances so I now have to run 4 days a week between 30 and 60 mins with a heartbeat in the range of 154 – 164 beats per minute (with efforts in between raising my heartbeat to over 175). Surreal because two weeks ago I was at my home in Spain and running on the beach in 80 degrees … is this really the right environment to be training for the North Pole ??! Last weekend found me in Sussex running up hills again in 70 degrees sunshine in October !! Probably wishful thinking that I will experience anything similar at the North Pole – guess that would prove the climatologists correct after all !! I pushed on really hard this morning and took my heartbeat up to nearly 190, strange really, similar feeling to that last alcoholic drink that tips you over the edge and you reach momentary euphoria – except in this mornings case it wasn’t even pleasurable getting there ! But I do now have my own psychologist – Prof Andy Lane has joined my team – boy am I going to need him!!

Have had Stavanger in my head – not sure why but always felt I had to fly to Stavanger – so thought I would be up front and book the flights for next April leaving Gatwick and arriving in Stavanger 4.5 hours later.

Richard Donovan emailed me this week confirming my acceptance for the 2011 North Pole Marathon on the 7th April and the flight arrangements home from Spitsbergen … oooppps!  I booked the wrong airport. So had to book the whole thing again yesterday for another £700 (!) and this time the journey is 9.5 hours with 3 changes. What with 70 degree training conditions and only a 3 hour flight this was all looking like a doddle but suddenly the reality is beginning to bite … the North Pole is extremely cold, a long way away and 26 miles in those conditions is going to be a lot harder than 8 miles in the pissing wet around Barnet this morning !!

Got the kit! Now for the first moment of truth – I enter the climate chamber for the first time on November 9th to experience running at  minus 30 degrees! Want to also test run my ipod to see if it works in those extreme temperatures – I downloaded Coldplay as thought it would be appropriate! Inspired by one of my twitter (polarrunner1) followers (@marcelzzz) who pointed out the only person we know to have ever played the drums at the North Pole!

So just a couple of footnotes for today – we are still trying to finalise the recipient of our charity donation for this event; sadly we are considering a number of people but if anybody reading this has someone who they think we may be able to help – now would be a good time to communicate with me as I would like to give this event a major profile after Christmas. One final point – if anybody would like a return flight to Stavanger (its very pretty in Spring! and not much snow) leaving Gatwick 20.55 on April 3rd 2011 returning 20.25 April 10th – I have one going cheap !!! … we will sell this cheaply for the cause.

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.

Am I Mad ?!?!?

9 09 2010


North Pole Marathon - The First Step


My name is Jon Smith and I am going to be 58 next week with very bad knees from too much sport, a broken foot from being stupid on holiday (trying to be 28!) … and I have decided to run my first marathon – at the North Pole !!
So here we go. I don’t want to go over the top but I thought it was worth a blog every few weeks just for the sheer hell of it and to make a few people laugh. The North Pole Marathon itself takes place every year with only 25 participants from around the world. Most of whom are uber marathon runners / triathletes (with good knees and two good feet) not marathon virgins like me !
Back home in comfy North West London I run a small public company called First Artist Corporation which manages a number of major sports stars / entertainers and a couple of big theatre marketing companies in London and New York; so I am hoping to achieve some reasonable publicity for the cause.
Ahhh ! now The Cause ….. this is where I need your help.
Ideally I would like to find a young person who is in urgent need of medical treatment who, for whatever reason, cannot seem to achieve that privately or through the NHS or indeed through their own countries medical system. I am hoping  to be able to raise enough funds for this mad marathon attempt to be able to pay for their otherwise unattainable treatment … can you help? do you know anyone who is / will be in that situation ?? I say will be because the marathon does not take place until April 5th 2011 so it may not be possible to find that person / cause until nearer the time.
So now my foot is healing training starts the third week of this month and will no doubt be adventuresome and amusing – I will try and keep the odd person who hits this blog entertained whilst updating our cause and hopefully adding a few of our celebs to the mix and maybe even one or two of the broadcasters who we will try and arm wrestle to support me!
The good news is polar bears don’t normally travel that far north – it’s too cold !!!