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24 September 2014
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 Inside Out - South West: Monday September 22, 2003


Sir Ranulph Fiennes
Marathon venture following Sir Ranulph Fiennes' heart by-pass surgery

Three months after under going heart by-pass surgery, Sir Ranulph Fiennes is in training for seven marathons in seven continents in seven days.

There is something about the South West that seems to breed great adventurers.

From here many of them, like Scott of the Antarctic, have headed out into the unknown.

For the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, though, life itself entered uncharted territory after it was almost snatched away.

EasyJet aircraft at Bristol airport
Heart attack just before the aeroplane took off

He suffered a heart attack, Britain's biggest killer.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes brush with death came on June 7 2003 after boarding a flight to Edinburgh at Bristol airport.

The 59-year-old record breaking adventurer collapsed on board an easyJet plane which was due to take off from Bristol airport.

After leaving hospital, Sir Ranulph said:

"I was lucky to get the attack just after parking the car, and just before the aeroplane took off.


Sir Ranulph Twistleton-Wykeham Fiennes is an aristocrat whose lineage can be traced back to Charlemagne.

He originally hoped to emulate his father's army career.

A poor academic record at Eton barred him from becoming a regular officer.

The army taught him such disciplines as climbing, skiing and canoeing.

In 1968, he led an expedition up the White Nile by hovercraft, recalling the days of the great British Victorian explorers.

He left the SAS after blowing up a Twentieth Century Fox film-set in Castle Coombe, Wiltshire.

He fought in Oman 1968-70.

Led more than 30 expeditions, including the first circumnavigation of the earth's polar axis with Charles Burton, and the first unsupported crossing of the Antarctic continent with Dr Michael Stroud.

Sir Ranulph makes his money from writing books about his trips, although only one out of five yields a book.If a journey is cut short for whatever reason, the publishing contract is cancelled and the lucrative lecture tours suffer too.

Sir Ranulph was awarded the OBE for "human endeavour and charitable services".

"I was also extremely lucky that a mobile defibrillating unit and the expert assistance of the Blue Watch of the Bristol Airport Fire Station were immediately on the scene."

Sir Ranulph, praised the "expertise and care" of the staff at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

A spokesman for the hospital said: "He spent one day in intensive care after the operation, then moved to a high dependency unit and finally a normal ward before being discharged.

Excellent progress

So what hope for us mere mortals if a supremely fit man who has punished his body to endure the world's most inhospitable environments suffers a heart attack.

Sir Ranulph returned to the Bristol Royal Infirmary for a stress test of his heart to see if the emergency by pass surgery has done its job.

A procedure which itself carries a risk.

The plan was to examine his heart to see if the abnormal rhythms which caused the heart attack are still present.

Marathon objective

Most people take it easy after heart. Not Sir Ranulph.

Doctors told him to not train for two months but a week after being discharged he was doing 30 minute training runs.

These are absolutely necessary if he is to compete in October 2003, in what could be his greatest challenge!

Seven marathons in seven continents in seven days.

His physician, Dr Cripps thinks it is safe for him to take part but Sir Ranulph is taking no chances.

His companion, long time fellow explorer Dr Mike Stroud, will be carrying a defibrillator throughout their global adventure.

See also ...

Heart bypass for explorer
Explorer Fiennes home after heart op
Heart Failure

On the rest of the web
British Heart Foundation
Sir Ranulph Fiennes

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