Supporter Paul Webb set himself the challenge of a lifetime – to travel a ‘virtual’ Pole-to-Pole journey, incorporating seven marathons across seven continents to raise £20,000 for Worldwide Cancer Research.
Paul, originally from Newcastle, but now based in St Andrews, began his epic journey with the London Marathon in April and finished with the Antarctic Ice Marathon on 19 November 2015.
Paul came into the Worldwide Cancer Research offices to celebrate his year of amazing fundraising and gave us his thoughts and reflections on a year of incredible feats.
“In 2011 I ran my first marathon in Marrakech, I was so poorly after the race from physical exhaustion I swore I would never run a marathon again. I had experienced ‘hitting the wall’ an expression used to describe the effects of your glycogen stores running on empty. The last 9km felt like an eternity as every ounce of energy had been sapped from me. It wasn’t until April 2014 before I overcame my fears by running in the London marathon as part of my fundraising challenge. I have now run the 26.2 miles distance on every continent to become one of only 134 people to ever do so.
“My last race was the Antarctic Ice Marathon, which took place at the Union Glacier camp on 20th November. It was a whiteout for much of the event with temperatures averaging -20 C; the low contrast made it difficult to see the running surface and it was a constant battle to find firmer ground to run on. I finished the race in first place in a time of 3:35:25 – less than one minute outside the existing race record set by Petr Vabrousek.
“To finish with a win is incredible, it still hasn’t really sunk in. If you told me this would happen four years ago I would have said you were crazy! After the race in Morocco I remember talking to a guy who was staying at the same riad, he told me how he had tried to break three hour in the marathon but had just managed 3:15. I was so in awe of his time and the three hour barrier was just unimaginable. But earlier this year I ran my first sub three hour marathon in London. It was just two weeks after the Marathon des Sables, a 156 mile self-sufficiency race across the Sahara. During the desert race I had lost 6-7 Kg in weight and I think this helped me to achieve a fast time in London. Since then I’ve broken three hours in Rio de Janeiro, Berlin and Auckland.
“I’m just a normal guy with no particular sporting talent. I now believe it is possible for anyone to achieve almost anything if you put your mind to it. All that is required is dedication and determination.”