Ranulph Fiennes is here.
That’s Sir Ranulph Fiennes to you – arguably the world’s greatest living explorer who laughs in the face of prolonged personal discomfort, scores consistent 11’s on the hardass scale, and is generally considered to be one of the world’s leading authorities on How To Persevere Through Cold Stuff For Months On End.
Which is nice – given that here I am in deepest darkest Surrey taking to a hall full of runners at their overnight stopover in the 2-day 70 mile Pilgrim Challenge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK_plgoLboU&feature=youtu.be about my failure to finish a measly 268miles that is The Spine Race on The Pennine Way.
I hadn’t really thought it through: I mean, I seen the press reports that he was training for Marathon des Sables – amazing that there is still stuff left on this planet that grabs his attention – and that his trainer of choice was someone that has done the Pilgrim race before, and that this early Feb event falls nicely if you are prepping for MdS in April…So c’mon: the chances were pretty good.
If I’d thought it through. Then I spotted the familiar angular frame at the centre of a group of runners clearly worshiping at the alter that is SRF.
My first thought? ‘Oh that looks like – well he looks smaller in real life…’
TV has much to answer for and ‘bigging up’ is clearly one. My first recollection of this is walking down the Promanade des Angles in Nice, France in 1988 on the eve of the iconic Nice Triathlon and seeing Mike Pigg one of the top US athletes at the time – and he looked TINY. Really! And in the magazines he was this pedal-mashing quad-monster.
If I’d have thought about it long enough I’d have cringed at what SRF might have thought sitting in that hall listening to me. And I think I’ve done a pretty decent job of De-constructing my experience, applying the science and turning that into language folks will relate to. But compared to him? Once again it was a chance to practice the skills of focusing on stuff I could control and adhering to the ‘Don’t Think Of A Blue Tree’ rule. And afterwards? I was standing quietly to one side and he walked past, looked right at me and said ‘ thank you.’
And not many people in an audience do that either.