Taking the plunge and pushing himself clearly has never been a problem for Gary Thompson – but what he’s about to do now takes that to new heights.
The 49-year-old decided that 2019, his 50th year, needed to be a big one. And it’s set to peak over the next few days as he attempts to conquer the North Pole Marathon.
That’s a full marathon distance, in temperatures somewhere around -33C, over rock-hard ice and snow. Such is the logistical scale of the challenge, competitors spend four days travelling, preparing, running and then winding down at one of the world’s most hostile natural environments.
Four days after he’s due to return to his home from the North Pole on April 11, Gary is due to take on the Boston Marathon too.
Born and raised in Churchdown, he was head boy at Chosen Hill School but now leads his life a world away from the quiet Gloucestershire village as a banker in New York with his wife Ai and twin boys Lucas and Tristan.
Together with his friend Edward Sares, Gary has raised an astonishing £80,000 for charity Dreams Come True, which helps to enrich the lives of children living with serious medical conditions.
His mum Jean, who still lives in Churchdown, is his proudest supporter.
“He’s always been fit and a bit of an adrenaline junkie but he only started running maybe four or five years ago,” she said.
“He’s done a few marathons but nothing ever like this – this will be the toughest thing he’s done.”
You can donate to his fundraiser here.
The North Pole Marathon
The North Pole Marathon has been running since 2002, although that year it was run by one single person, and attracts a field of about 60 competitors.
The men’s course record is held by Ireland’s Thomas Maguire who finished in 3hrs 36mins 10s in 2007, and the women’s record was set in 2014 by Germany’s Anne-Marie Flammersfeld at 4hrs 52mins 45s.
Finish times vary hugely year-on-year depending on how severe the weather conditions are.
This year’s marathon is on April 9 but competitors will fly to Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago, on Saturday April 6, arrive at camp at the North Pole on April 8, then back to Svalbard on April 10.
The entry fee is a massive 16,000 Euros, about £14,000.
It is dubbed ‘The World’s Coolest Marathon’ and to date only 552 people have completed it.
News By Gloucestershire Live