How do you explain to your family that you are going to run 100 miles on a frozen lake in temperatures reaching -50C while surrounded by bears and wolves?
Fortunately for Thorney’s Darren Grigas his proud relatives are used to his monumental endurance challenges, which have ranged from ultramarathons in the Sahara Desert to running the length of Scotland while scaling its Highlands.
“Mum and dad get anxious when the next big thing comes up, but they are very proud of what I have done and achieved so far,” said Darren (40).
The same pride is felt by his partner Sarah King and children Ethan (17) and Oonagh-Mae (14) who will soon be waving goodbye as Darren sets off to Lake Khuvsgul in Mongolia via a 14-hour flight and a 12-hour drive with a small group of people to test out a new running challenge dreamt up by the organisers of the Burghley Rat Race.
“It’s a bit of an honour to be invited. It’s a rare and bizarre thing to take on, and I would have kicked myself if I had said no,” said Darren.
“But, I don’t do too well in the cold, suffering with Raynaud’s which means the blood flow to my fingers cuts off easier than normal, and they can get painfully cold even just in moderately low temperatures.
“So as temperatures on the lake can reach -50C I’m a little anxious to say the least. These are extreme conditions I’ve never faced before, so I’m not sure how it’s going to play out, and I hope my body doesn’t freeze up and bits fall off!”
But, there is even more for Darren to fear in Mongolia than the bitter chill. He explained: “Big things with sharper teeth that can run faster than me is always a concern, but we have guides who are armed just in case and we’ve been reassured the wolves should not bother us.
“The bears will apparently be asleep. Wolves we are highly likely to see.”
Darren started running in 2013 and it took him five weeks before he could do two and a half miles around Ferry Meadows without stopping.
He was inspired by watching a documentary on Olympic gold medal winning rower James Cracknell taking on the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the toughest footrace on earth.
Yet, despite having never run a marathon before, Darren signed up for the 156-mile, six-day challenge in May 2015, raising £20,000 for Anna’s Hope, the children’s brain tumour charity which he is fundraising for again in his latest challenge. And, despite his worries, when he sets off to run on Lake Khövsgöl in a few weeks’ time his main feeling will be excitement rather than apprehension as he pushes his body to the limit once again.
He added: “I’m looking forward to the whole experience - I just hope my knees hold out and I come back in one piece!”
To sponsor Darren’s run, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mongolianicechallenge.