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questioning, before quickly moving on. “I’m very careful when it comes to limbs,” he continues as if to distract me from the ‘big’ scares. “I go to the physio if I get aches and pains.” And when it comes to arthritis, he adds, he uses his mother’s rememdy: “A type of cider vinegar; honeygar. If I stop taking it for a few months the arthritis comes back. “My mother was in her mid-eighties

when she was diagnosed with arthritis in her back. She’d read in Reader’s Digest about a Nurse Jones in the Midlands who’d had rhemotoid arthritis and had found a way to sort it out, positively and aggressively. “My mother lived until she was 93 and the arthritis went away.”

Old Boy!

Old Etonian Sir Ranulph comes from good stock. He’s Britain’s first

posthumous baronet and a distant cousin of Jane Austen. It would appear he’s inherited a healthy constitution and a positive outlook and I overhear him telling one of the other journalists that “one in six people will live to 100,” and that “today’s 82 is yesterday’s 68.” Sir Ranulph, 67, (presumably

yesterday’s 43) runs twice a week for two hours a day, and stretches every day. He used to run an hour a day but he says he now finds running “boring.” For many years he competed as part of an elite fell running team. But as he slowed down, he felt frustrated that he was letting the team down. And he says, “I’m not interested in running for any old team.” So fell racing is on hold. He’s ambitious to be the best, but not

driven by ego. “You learn in the army to start off low and aim high,” he tells me. “I like to lead if I have confidence in the scenario. If it’s a polar expedition in sea ice conditions, I’m confident. If it’s adventure racing, I do what I’m told.”

How not to get bored

As boring as he says running is, he states: “You don’t become an OAP and stop running.” Running and adventures

“You learn in the army to start off low and aim high”

always include raising money (he’s raised £10m), and us journalists are assembled for the launch of the Standard Charter 5k, held in July in London, in aid of the charity Seeing is Believing. Raising money is part of the job and

he says he worries about finances: “You can never rest on your laurels and think a source of income will always be there – not when you’re self-employed.” Watching multi-tasking Sir Ranulph at

work is impressive. How many 67-year- olds would be happy to roll up at 8am, talk to journalists from Country & Home, Ultrafit and the Daily Mail, then be filmed on the London Eye delivering a presentation about the the charity? Being on the move is clearly life-fuel

for Sir Ranulph: “I wouldn’t like to not have a project lined up. I would find that deadly – and boring,” he says. Not surprising then that he says he

doesn’t really get bored. He’s been exploring since the 1960s and is a profilic author, having written 18 books. “The goal of expeditions are to try to

achieve what our rivals haven’t been able to achieve,” he explains. Sir Ranulph’s exploits have included

circumnavigating the globe on foot, discovering the lost city of Ubar, exposing himself to temperatures of -40C, scaling the north face of the Eiger and climbing Mount Everest with an ongoing heart condition!

TThe women in his life hrough all his expeditions his feet

were kept firmly on the ground with the help of his childhood sweetheart and wife of 36 years, Ginny. “The expeditions were dreamt up, planned and organised by her,” he tells me. “She was the nerve centre; in extreme environments she was the polar base commander, critical to the expeditions.” Sadly, Ginny died of cancer in 2004,

but Sir Ran, in what appears to be his trademark practical optimism, has found happiness again and is now married to Louise, with whom he has a young daughter. And clearly this partnership works too. When Paralympian gold medallist Noel Thatcher (pictured far left) leaves the press day, he asks Sir Ranulph for some tips for how to deal with a new baby: “Leave it to the wife,” quips Sir Ran. The stories continue. I hear the ins and outs of a race in the Antarctic which included running laps on a large block of ice in blizzard conditions! The writer in him speaks slowly and deliberately, feeding us with copy, but, I wonder, is he simply keeping prying journos with an interest in pop psychology at bay, with these long and captivating tales?

Top tips!

Sir Ranulph is living proof that life is an adventure. After failed attempts to get to the core of the man, I opt for a bland question “Tips for marathon runners?”. “Do what your running magazine tells you,” he rolls off. “If you want to run four hours, set off at a sensible pace.” This rather staid answer contradicts his actions. When he took on his seven marathons his doctor had told him not to let his heart rate go over 130 beats per minute. He reportedly said later that he forgot to pack his heart rate monitor! Actions, they say, speak louder than words. My own interpretation of these marathon tips would read something like: “Be blindly optimistic. Set totally unrealistic goals. Don’t listen to anyone who says, don’t do it. And just get on with it, with a stiff upper lip and a thoroughly no-nonsense British attitude!”



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