Charlie Martell will be taking part in three rather extreme challenges
over the next three years.
2005, he'll be heading for the Arctic circle where he'll be taking
part in the Polar Challenge - a 350 mile foot race in sub zero conditions.
2006, Charlie and three team-mates will be taking on the Atlantic
Challenge - an attempt to row 2,800 miles across the Atlantic Ocean
in less than 55 days.
in 2007, Charlie will be taking on the infamous Marathon Des Sables
- a 151 mile foot race across the Sahara desert.
caught up with Charlie at a recent fund-raising event for Commando
Joe in Cheltenham.
you would expect with someone who's taking on such extreme challenges,
he's a very fit looking character and his focused, disciplined attitude
tells a great deal about his approach to the next three years.
take on three such demanding challenges?
a good question. It all started off with a rowing race which was
put back by a year. I was already mentally ready for something to
do next year (2005) so I looked around and saw the North Pole race,
asked a fellow commando if he fancied doing it and he said yes.
It was actually my brother-in-law, Adrian [Bell], who's our campaign
manager, who said 'why don't you do three challenges over three
years' and that's why we're doing all three.
First up is the Polar Challenge in 2005. Are you looking forward
seen the recent BBC Two series about that [the Polar Challenge],
it looks far more difficult than I expected. However, myself and
the guy who's going with me have both been in the Arctic many times
and we think we're well prepared for it, although you can never
prepare for temperatures as low as -65. I am looking forward to
it - it's going to be tough, it's going to be enjoyable but it's
all for a good cause [the Meningitis Trust].
Polar Race will cover around 350 miles - not an easy task when you
have to take 90kg of supplies and equipment with you.
going to be a non-stop slog. It's going to be permanent daylight.
It's going to be difficult getting your bearings, trying to sleep
and trying to walk. It's going to be a long slog, 350 miles.
The year after you're going to be doing the Atlantic challenge.
2,800 miles rowing across the Atlantic Ocean - another massive challenge.
going to be a big one. We're aiming to set a number of firsts here.
The first is to beat the 55 day existing record from the West to
East, landing in the UK. It's the first ever four-man race across
the Atlantic, the first to finish in the UK. It we can beat the
record then that's another first. Out of all three challenges, that
won't be hardest I don't think. Although, with four different personalities
onboard, that'll be the difficulty.
There will be four of you in a boat that roughly measures 30
feet by eight feet. You'll be taking two hour turns at rowing in
pairs for around 50 days. It's quite a long time to be stuck together
- do you foresee any problems?
have one Scotsman, one Welshman and two Englishmen so there're going
to be some battles onboard for sure.
So no Englishmen, Scotsmen and Welshmen jokes then?
[laughs]. We'll start as friends and finish as friends - that's
the bottom line.
The boat itself doesn't look that big and it's got to go 2,800
miles. What do you think when you look at it?
not very big and there's not much room to hide either. If we have
an argument, it's got to be settled in a couple of hours - arguments
finished, we carry on. There's got to be discussion and differences
of opinion but there's nowhere to hide. We have to get everything
out in the air.
Not a lot of privacy either, looking at the very small cabin
areas at either end of the boat.
it's a matter of bucket and chuck it!
Moving onto 2007, you'll be taking on the Marathon Des Sables
- a 151 mile race across the Sahara desert in six days on foot.
right. It was going to be me on my own but a few of the lads have
said they're up for it as well so we're going to try and enter a
team for the marathon. We haven't approached the organisers yet
but the plan is that we'll put in a Commando Joe team.
Another massive distance - 151 miles in searing desert heat.
Anything you're looking forward to or dreading about that?
dreading the whole thing [laughs]! It's going to be five days of
sheer hell. I know friends who've done it, I've seen the pictures
of people's feet [after they finished it] and the heat stroke casualties
that occur on this. The only thing I can look forward to is the
fact that I do work in hot countries so maybe that will prepare
me nearer the time.
With three pretty extreme challenges, what sort of training regimes
do you think you'll have to undertake to be ready for them?
all three it's stamina training. For the North Pole we really need
to start walking long distances. My colleague who's going with me
is already walking two-and-a-half hours every morning and a half-hour
of running in the afternoon to maintain a base fitness. We'll be
going up to Wales for navigation training and we'll also be doing
26 miles [there]. For essential training we need to be doing about
twelve hours a day pulling tyres down roads and up hills, across
country - that's the North Pole because we're pulling a ninety pound
And the Atlantic?
machines. A bit of running. Maintaining a stamina - the endurance
is going to be the key there.
And finally the Sahara...
Desert is exactly the same. 151 miles, five days - it's stamina,
not speed. It's not called fitness, it far more about endurance
and mind over matter - mental attitude.
You've just returned from the Sudan where you've been helping
with mine clearance work. What can you tell me about that?
in Darfur so I wasn't in such a bad area. I was working for a Joint
Military Commission which is predominantly European led with funding
for around the world. In that area there's not been shot fired in
two years. Absolute peace and it's a real success story. The clearing
of the mines there is an important role. There're 2,000 or more
kilometres to clear of roads before we can allow aid into the correct
areas and that's the tough call because it's a lot of time, a lot
of distance and the resources required to do that are incredible.
One of the aims of your mine clearance project is to teach skills
to the local people so they can become self-sufficient in mine clearance.
we teach mine clearance to the local community so they can help
themselves. After all it's their country and their problem - all
we can do is go and help them with our expertise and basically hand
over to them, put ourselves out of a job. It's all about capacity
building. Sudan is slightly different, because they need the mines
cleared now we don't really have the time to do the training, the
capacity building - it takes far too long. As longer term project
over a year to five years, it's not a problem. Sudan is a lot of
short, small project - do x amount of kilometres of road, do the
job and move onto the next kilometres. It just depends on the task
and the country really.
Charlie, and good luck with the extreme challenges over the next
see you in three and half years time and I'll tell you about them
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