Global Mission Accomplished With
7 Marathons in 7
By RON DICKER - from the
They originally planned to climb Mount
Everest. They settled for this.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dr. Michael Stroud,
a pair of British explorers, completed a most improbable globe-trotting
endurance feat in the New York City Marathon yesterday.
Carrying a miniature defibrillator for
Fiennes, who had double-bypass heart surgery last June, they finished their
seventh marathon in seven days on almost seven continents. They had to forgo
their first leg in Antarctica for a marathon in the Patagonia region of
southern Chile because of weather problems. But who wants to quibble on a
"It was the best proxy we could manage,"
said Stroud, 48, who hatched the idea of their odyssey.
Fiennes walked into the news media center
overlooking Central Park looking as if he had gone for a jog. They finished in
5 hours 25 minutes 46 seconds.
"I don't feel too tired," said Fiennes, 59,
who held back so he could cross the finish line with Stroud, who was laboring
because of blisters, jet lag and severe muscle damage.
Their itinerary alone would exhaust most
travelers. Beginning with Patagonia last Monday, they ran specially arranged
marathons in the Falkland Islands on Tuesday, in Sydney, Australia, on
Wednesday, in Singapore on Thursday, in London on Friday and in Cairo on
Saturday running at midnight beneath the Great Pyramids before
arriving in New York on Saturday night.
"This has been enjoyable throughout except
for the bits of running," Fiennes said.
They recorded their fastest time, 4:31, in
the Falklands. Their most trying segment, they said, was in sauna-like
conditions in Singapore, where they sustained dehydration.
Stroud was the worse for the wear. A blood
test before yesterday's race revealed that his muscles were frayed far more
The only thing Fiennes complained about was
a circulatory condition that keeps his right hand cold.
They were scheduled to fly back to England
last night. "A cup of tea would go down well," Stroud said.
Fiennes thanked his heart surgeon, David
Smith, for assuming the risk of being blamed if Fiennes had a relapse. Smith's
only instructions were to keep his heart rate under 130 beats a minute, said
Fiennes, a relative of the actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes.
Fiennes, whom the Guinness Book of World
Records calls "the world's greatest living explorer," met Stroud in 1982 when
they became the first men to cross Antarctica on foot. They live about 200
miles apart Fiennes near Exeter, Stroud near London but bar bets
and dares have fueled their friendship.
"We're the sort of people who like a
challenge," Stroud said. "When one of us is getting despondent, then the other
one usually pulls us through."
Fiennes said, "I would not advise any
friends of mine to attempt it."
Stroud, a gastroenterologist, originally
planned to scale Everest with Fiennes. Time constraints interfered, so Stroud
searched for a venture that would span a week. He came up with the 7-7-7 idea
from a man who had completed marathons on all seven continents, but he required
91 days and entered only official races.
New York was the only sanctioned race that
Fiennes and Stroud ran, and they were trailed by members of the British news
media the entire way.
Land Rover sponsored them, and they used
the race to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. British Airways
provided in-flight beds on many segments of the journey to help them fend off
exhaustion, but the traveling was not always smooth.
They waited for days for a blizzard to
clear over Antarctica to complete the first run. When it finally did, their
plane sputtered through engine failure and they never left the ground. Despite
their slow start, each of them logged 183.4 running miles and 45,000 miles of
air and ground travel.
Consider their odyssey complete.
"Why would I want to do it again?" Stroud
They have not decided on their next
"I'll ring him up next year," Fiennes
Stroud replied, "I may not answer."