And finally …..

12 04 2011

And Finally ……. the mission is complete !

Having arrived at base camp in Spitsbergen to minus 25 degrees and howling snow on Sunday 3rd April – we then got stuck  in Longyearbyen until Friday 8th.

Whilst Prince Harry was at our North Pole camp with the ‘Walking with the Wounded’ soldiers, we were with his plane in Svalbard. As the weather started clearing on Tuesday,  so the ice runway at the Pole cracked (apparently due to the sizable closeness of the large full moon the previous week which had disturbed the worlds oceanic flow and had put additional pressure on the Arctic ocean cap). The Russian Military worked overnight to create a new runway and we finally arrived at the site of our North Pole Marathon very early in the morning of Friday 8th April (circa 7am).In fact it’s probable that we only got on that first flight out through the influence of our organiser Richard Donovan as the queue for polar trekkers waiting on the island of Svalbard was now sizable … and the fact that the world’s media had turned their attention to our young prince who was stuck on the ice awaiting his / our plane … well actually plane is an exageration it was a tube with two engines with us strapped in !! (see apprehensive me en route)

The marathon started at 22.00 that night and was absolutely brutal! I am wearing a blue jacket, yellow vest and the number “21”.  By now the temperature had dropped to minus 32 degrees and although beautifully bright and sunny, the storms that had passed through the previous days had left the course covered in really powdery snow so it became exceedingly difficult to get a grip underfoot.  As the temperature dropped some parts of the course resembled a skating rink with the top end of the lap (there were 14 laps around the Pole) appearing to be a thin covering of ice over the blue ocean which creaked and cracked as you ran across it and sent ‘pinging’ noises like a sonar to the ice and snow features surrounding us. Although I didn’t really take it all in at the time, it was abjectively beautiful … the bright sun reflecting off the white blue ocean turning some of the snow hills to lime green … if only my legs would have appreciated it!

We couldn’t carry any refreshments as they would freeze so I planned to come into the medical / refreshment tent every other lap to make sure that I was refueled, but this changed as I got to lap 8 and various body parts started to sizably ache, largely due to the stumbling, falling and enormous effort required just to run through some of the hillier areas of the snow on the course that, in places, meant we were running virtually up to our knees in the stuff.

Lap 10 was my only major problem when both my eyes froze and I committed the cardinal sin of removing my right hand glove (Greg Whyte had only told me about 400 or so times NEVER to do that!) to un stick my right eye which had only just iced over. Within no more than 20 seconds my thumb had frozen and was turning a delicate shade of white at the top (the first sign of frost nip) so I had to haretail fairly rapidly (well sort of!) back to the refreshment tent, fortunately only a third of a lap away, where they applied heat and TLC to ensure that I didn’t loose my thumb.

All the runners were concerned for each other, the comradarie both immense and intense.

So eventually the race was won in a fraction under 5 hours and I came in (not last as I expected !!) in 8 hours 34 minutes 44 seconds. Crossing the line was a lifetime moment that I shall never forget followed by a feeling of intense nausea and 90 minutes of constant convulsive body shaking! Some of the other competitors came round, stripped me of my sweaty gear, which had now turned to ice on my body, warmed me up, redressed me and threw me in a cosy sleeping bag … I am as indebted to them as I am to all of you who have supported this project of mine both financially and spiritually!

So finally ….. its over and your junk boxes will no longer be bombarded !

The TaNK treatment that Lee’s charity is helping fund is progressing very well and will, in time, help save many lives, which, as Mastercard would say …  is priceless!

Thank you all so much for your patience and your support: between us all we have raised enough money to give young Alex Field the opportunity of his life saving treatment.

All of my good wishes and positive thoughts now go to him – his battle is far more important than my challenge !!

Jon and Alex ...

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check out the video page and polar gallery for updates ….

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





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





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





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 ……