Brave surgeon Ben is off to the Arctic for the world's toughest race
A SURGEON is to take on one of the toughest challenges in the world.
Ben Ollivere, 34, is tackling the 6633 Ultra Challenge – which involves pulling a sled for 350 miles, the equivalent of 13 marathons, over seven days in the sub-zero temperatures of the Arctic Circle.
Only seven people have ever completed the challenge in the frozen northern wilderness of Canada.
Ben, from The Park, a consultant orthopaedic and major trauma surgeon at the Queen's Medical Centre, will be raising money for a charity called Cure International.
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His girlfriend, Katie Rollins, 27, a general surgical registrar, also at the Queen's Medical Centre, will accompany Ben on his Arctic expedition, running with him for the first 26 miles as a marathon and then changing roles to become team medic for the remainder of his arduous journey.
Ben, who will begin the challenge on Wednesday March 20, said: "I'm looking forward to attempting the hardest race on the planet – I've always wanted to do something like this.
"I've been training hard and am used to taking part in Ironman contests and triathlons, but this will be very different.
"The cold, in particular, makes it very, very challenging."
The 6633 Ultra challenge has the reputation for being the hardest footrace on the planet. It is named 6633 as it is the latitude of the Arctic Circle – 66 33' degrees north.
Temperatures plummet as low as -40°C, which can feel more like -98°C with wind chill, and Ben will take his route over Wright Pass, the only mountain range in the Arctic.
In preparation for the mammoth task, Ben has been training by running more miles per week than Mo Farrah did in his preparations for the London 2012 Olympics.
He is currently running between 120 and 140 miles each week.
He said: "This is the ultimate challenge – of the 60 competitors that have started it, only seven have finished. More people have walked on the moon than completed the 6633 Ultra Challenge."
Ben decided to raise money for Cure International after working with the charity in Afghanistan in 2011.
The charity transforms the lives of disabled children in the developing world by providing operations and medical care, regardless of ability to pay.
"Through this challenge, I will be able to raise money and publicity for Cure," Ben said.
"They have shown me how much difference just a few people and a few pounds can make."
To find out more about the charity, visit the website www.cureinternational.org.uk. To sponsor Ben, visit www.justgiving.com/crazy-arctic-run