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

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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





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: 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 ……