It was quite a coincidence to have a friend loan me the above-titled autobiography of Ranulph Fiennes, just before I was heading out on the night recce of the High Peak Marathon. Mr. Fiennes has been quite a fixture in the HPM, (a night-time navigational challenge through the bogs and moors of the Peak District), although that seems to be the least of his accomplishments!
Ran, as his friends call him, was the first to journey around the world via the polar axis (through Antarctica and the Artic ice-caps). He later was the first to cross Antarctica on foot, by pulling a sled behind him weighing up to 500 pounds. He has also summitted Mt. Everest, climbed the north face of the Eiger, completed 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents, and participated in a few extreme adventure races.
I quite enjoyed the book, I found his writing to be conversational, witty, and easy-to-read. I also seem to be (quite unintentionally at first) educating myself in the history and lore of British sport, at least where long-distance running is somehow involved.
At times I think of myself as an extreme athlete...or at least my more moderate friends and coworkers do! However, after reading this book, I can safely say that there is a lot of extreme-ness left in the world that I have no desire to emulate. For example, I don't want to pull a heavy sled over ice crevaces in antarctica, or get frostbite from falling into melting ice-slush in the Arctic. I don't think the 10% chance of dying after summitting Mt. Everest sounds like very good survival odds, nor do I want to bivy in a flimsy tent in -50 F temps while wearing the same clothes for 1/3 of a year in a row. But that's just me. It is quite entertaining to read about, though, from the safety and warmth of my living room couch!