Sir Ranulph completes first leg of marathon journey

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The Independent US

The British adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes was heading for the Falkland Islands last night, having completed the first of his seven marathons in as many days.

Sir Ranulph, 59, who had a double heart bypass in June, declared himself healthy and happy after crossing the finishing line of the rescheduled run in Chile with his former trekking partner Mike Stroud, 49, in just under fours.

The explorers had been due to fly south from Chile for the first stage of the challenge on King George Island but harsh Antarctic conditions, including sub-zero temperatures and high winds, put the plan in doubt. Then it was scuppered by engine trouble.

Instead, the pair found the southernmost location suitable for long-distance running: alongside the waters of the Magellan Strait in Patagonia in southern Chile.

The pair will fly to the Falklands for the second stage, which was meant to take place in Santiago, before they head for the third marathon in Sydney tomorrow.

Mr Stroud, who accompanied Sir Ranulph on a 1,300-mile trek across the Antarctic in 1993, said: "The last 10 miles were difficult but it has been a good start. We could not have hoped for a nicer course. Now you know there are only so many hours before you start all over again."

Sir Ranulph added: "Mike is always fantastic. He gets the pace exactly right."

Under the banner of the Land Rover 7x7x7 Challenge the pair plan to run 183.4 miles with interconnecting flights covering 45,000 miles in 168 hours. Their trip will also take in marathons in Singapore, London and Cairo before finishing in New York on 2 November.

All money raised from the marathons will be given to the British Heart Foundation.