Adventurer Ben's got more of the world's great challenges in sight


HE is a modern day explorer who has travelled the globe pursuing his taste for adventure.

Leeds adrenaline junkie Ben Thackwray modestly describes himself as an ‘ultra distance runner, mountaineer and adventurer.’

And his list of exploits reads like something from a Hollywood film script.

He is about to row across the Atlantic; and in 2008 will attempt to trek 340 miles cross Greenland alone on foot with only a sled to carry his food and equipment.

In 2009 he will try to complete an ‘adventure trilogy’ by climbing Everest; skiing to the South Pole and rowing across the Atlantic (again).

He once climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in two days.

Ben, who is single but one day hopes to find the woman of his dreams, said: “In 2006 I ran the 150 mile Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, finishing in the top 10 Brits. “That year I also ran 100 miles non-stop in the inaugural Pennine Challenge, finishing third.

And he also ran 50 miles along the Thames in less than eight hours, finishing in the top 10, in an international field of ultra distance athletes.

The marathon man, from Yeadon, who somehow manages to hold down a sensible day job in credit risk, has just returned from Alaska, after climbing Denali (Mt McKinley), the highest mountain in North America.

Later this year he will join Simon Chalk to try to break the world record for rowing across the Atlantic.

The record of 35 days was set in 1992 by a French team, and is the most sought after and longest standing record in ocean rowing.

Ben said: “On December 2 we will set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to row 2,500 miles, unsupported, to Antigua. We will be using a combination of state-of-the-art technology and good old fashioned grit and determination.

“For the row, we need to raise 10,000 each to cover costs, 60,000 in total, so raising money for charity will be a bonus.

“We are desperately looking for support and corporate partnerships, particularly around the Leeds area.”

The former pupil of St Peter and St Paul's Primary, Yeadon and St Mary's Menston, then Leeds Metropolitan University, says his family constantly tell him to ‘go steady’ and ‘be careful’.

He said: “From about five years old, I’ve been inspired by the stories of Scott and Amundsen, Hillary and Norgay, and I followed with admiration the achievements of the likes of Ranulph Fiennes, Chris Bonington, Alison Hargreaves, Pen Hadow and Alan Hinkes.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been planning on going on the big classic adventures, rowing the Atlantic, climbing Everest, and skiing to the South Pole, amongst other things. I’ve always wanted to experience them for myself and see those places with my own eyes.

“I would hate to look back on my life and know that I could have done the things I wanted to but never made the effort.

“So five years ago I really started making the effort, and now I’m starting to fulfil my ambitions. There are still a lot of adventures and challenges ahead.”

His training ground is in the Yorkshire Dales where he likes nothing better than running on cold wet Saturday mornings.

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