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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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

 





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.