The time I gave directions to Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the world’s greatest living explorer

… and how his current Saharan fundraising adventures for Marie Curie are an inspiration.

“How do I get from Stansted into central London?” Sir Ranulph Fiennes asked me in an 11pm phone call, after I’d spoken with a colleague to confirm his flight.

On travel-mode auto-pilot, I instantly replied: “You catch the Stansted Express train straight from the airport into Liverpool Street. It takes about 40 minutes. Or, if you want the Victoria Line, you can get off at Tottenham Hale.” I paused. “Thanks again for everything, Sir Ran. Good night and have a safe flight in the morning.”

I put down the phone and the thought dawned on me. I HAD JUST GIVEN THE WORLD’S GREATEST LIVING EXPLORER DIRECTIONS!

This, the man who has traversed the Antarctic, reached the North Pole, run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days, and conquered Everest. Places and experiences many of us can only imagine in our wildest travel dreams.

I met Sir Ranulph when he spoken at my then company’s conference just over a year ago. I was his point of contact. Sir Ranulph and his stories will leave you raptured and in awe, both on- and off-stage. And this week he’s inspiring me again.

Ultra marathon in the Sahara

Sir Ranulph is currently in the scorching Sahara desert, He’s running 156 miles in the Marathon des Sables over six days, from 5-11 April, to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

man running on sahara desert sand dunes
Fancy doing this for six days in scorchio temperatures? Me neither. Kudos to Sir Ranulph though 🙂

I’ve volunteered with Marie Curie. I’ve seen the great work they do caring for terminally ill patients and supporting their families here in the UK.

Over the years Sir Ranulph has raised over £14 million for charities including Marie Curie. He’s been named by JustGiving as the UK’s top celebrity fundraiser.

156-miles across a desert may be beyond me, but Sir Ranulph has inspired me to dig out my running shoes and enter the Jane Tomlinson 10k charity run in York in August. I’ll be fundraising, and trying to get my time under 55 minutes – it’s one of the 25 (more) experiences I’m going to have before I die.

Back to Sir Ranulph, though. I’ve made a donation to his stupendous ultra-marathon efforts. It would be wonderful if you could also support him in this challenge for an amazing cause.

You can read all about how Sir Ranulph is getting on here. Let’s hope he knows where he’s going 😉

Julie Sykes of The Gap Year Edit


Hi, I'm Julie, a York (UK)-based travel blogger and comfort-zone pusher. Join me as I bring you pics and musings from my mildly adventurous travels around the globe. My mission is to hear you say, "I"m so glad I did it!" instead of, "I wish I could, BUT ..."

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